Customer experience is the hot topic in a lot of companies. It's not a new concept. But as an area of focus for improvement, it's picking up huge momentum and generating new terms like the "customer journey" and "customer lifecycle." Yet most of what I hear on this topic is about influencing the experience after someone has already become a customer. That ignores the critical first mile of the journey, which is the experience of becoming a customer. And if you don't do an exceptional job with that initial segment, there are probably many prospects missing out on the terrific customer experience you could provide.
The experience of becoming a customer is frequently overlooked, and it is rarely discussed within the sales function. As a leader, if you are serious about providing an excellent customer experience to match the quality of the products and services you offer, you must make sure it begins within your sales organization.
Imagine what potential new customers considering your business encounter:
- Do they feel that your sellers understand their needs and goals, or do they feel unduly pressured by a seller trying to close because leaders are pushing for more revenue?
- Do they gain insights about issues they face, opportunities they can capitalize on, or unintended consequences they can avoid from your sales professionals? Or must they sit through a capabilities pitch because that's what your marketing team is providing.
- Does your sales team provide the opportunity to discuss their concerns productively and resolve them collaboratively? Or are your sellers trained to address customer concerns with cheesy objection handling tactics.
- Does the initial sales contact reflect your brand and accelerate your value? Or is it a hurdle that potential clients need to endure to get to the good stuff?
If you are serious about improving your customer experience, you need to think critically and carefully about the journey from prospect to customer. For better or worse, your potential clients will project their experience forward. "If it is this good/bad now, imagine how good/bad it will be when they have my money?" The answer to this question will likely determine your success.