As I’ve written and spoken about for some time now, I believe that the rhetoric about social selling has not only become deafening, but confusing to customers. Normal I suppose but unfortunate. For years, we’ve talked about the need to bridge the working gap between sales and marketing, because these two departments have often had a love/hate relationship with one another. The service department? Well, they exist to take care of things when they go wrong, but how often were sales, marketing and service execs co-creating the strategy behind the creation of the best possible customer experience from prospect, to customer acquisition and retention? Not much. That’s why I believe that banging the drum of social selling is missing the bigger point. We need to break down organizational silos not build them up.
It is all about the experience. What’s the experience of working with you and your company?
As companies look for unique ways to stand out, delivering stellar experience in every interaction is the way to do it. Let me clarify what I mean by “experience”. I mean the positive or negative reaction at every touch point in the process of first connecting with a prospect, moving them to a sales opportunity, closing the business and retaining them as a happy customer for life.
What I find interesting is that the conversation surrounding the importance of delivering great customer experience has been ongoing for years. Which is why I’m mystified that service appears to actually be declining, rather than improving. This isn’t just my personal opinion based on experience and observation, there are hard facts to back me up.
Aberdeen reported that “85% of business leaders who participated in their 2012 Chief Service Officer (CSO) Summit, stated that their organization was placing an increased importance on customer service, given the constraints of the global economy and an extremely competitive marketplace.”
Eight-five percent of business leaders said “service” was important, but we didn’t see much improvement in overall experience statistics in 2013.
According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations.
In 2013, only 37% of brands received good or excellent customer experience index scores. That leaves a pretty big gap with 64% of brands earning a rating ranging from OK to very poor from their customers.
And in Oracle’s report: Why Customer Satisfaction is No Longer Good Enough, they report that one of the key drivers for a customer to spend more with a company is the overall improvement of the customer experience.
What’s the Stumbling Block?
Companies are often too internally focused with competing priorities, political agendas and departmental ego’s getting in the way. Rarely are processes tested by walking in the shoes of their prospects and customers. In short, they have no clue what doing business with the company or the people is like. And in the mad rush to constantly chase new business, companies seemed to have developed a sort of collective amnesia about their number one priority: developing opportunities – beyond the first sale – with their current list of accounts and ensuring that they are happy with the overall business experience.
Ruffle Some Feathers
The bigger companies become, the more complex it is to change things but that’s not a good excuse for being complacent. Now that you add social, mobile and digital into the mix, the ability to create great experiences across multiple channels becomes critical. The rub is that even today many companies generally do not have a well-defined strategy for how they will move the needle on the customer experience. Without a strategy and commitment to change, it will never happen.
Recently, a series of my blog posts ruffled a few feathers. I called out a company that I fired. I didn’t set out to give them a hard time, but after problems with their service, I finally decided to cancel my account. The problem is that they didn’t make it easy and that made me mad. Justify to yourself all you want to, but when your processes are designed with your agenda in mind and not considering what’s truly best for the customer, you will have issues.
Be ruthless in evaluating your processes and always from the customer’s point of view. Don’t wait for former customers to start spreading the word about your failings’. By then, it’s to little to late.