Customers choose where to take their business based on a number of factors not all of which can be accounted for. In days gone by, it may have been sufficient to leave it at that. But now, a change in how companies are communicating with their prospects is sweeping through the business world. The change can be summed up in the idea of Customer Experience.
According to Wikipedia Customer Experience is “the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. From awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy.”
It is not news that customer experience is what drives a company’s success, but what is new is the explicit effort on the part of smart marketers to engineer the customer experience, rather than allowing it to unfold somewhat randomly.
Designing your customer experience is a complex undertaking. It first means identifying your target customer and then articulating what kind of experience you’d like that customer to have. Then it is necessary to develop methods of creating that experience for your customers.
To begin conceptualizing the ideal customer experience; think about ways you’d like prospects to experience your company at different stages. Using a pared down list of the stages from the Wikipedia definition of customer, here’s an example of a first glance of the ideal customer experience.
Awareness- A prospect becomes aware of your product through word of mouth, seeing it in use by people he or she identifies with or desires to emulate. They gather information as they are ready to assimilate it on the internet and elsewhere. Your presence on the web and among the buying public is a positive one.
Interaction- A prospect interacts with your company by visiting the website and/or physical location, and by speaking to customers of yours who have become advocates. Their interactions are timely, targeted and leave the prospect feeling that they are dealing with someone they can trust.
Purchase- The prospect becomes a customer in a transaction that they feel good about. Throughout the transaction process, they feel that they are being treated fairly and with respect.
Use- The customer uses your product or benefits from your service in a way that increases their quality of life. It performs as promised and meets or exceeds their expectations. They derive ongoing satisfaction as a result of having brought their business to you.
Advocacy- The customer’s satisfaction has been so complete in terms of product and service that they recommend your company. They are knowledgeable about your product and service and speak about it without reservation to friends, family, etc.
Engineering your customer experience is a significant undertaking and requires the bringing together of several different disciplines; disciplines that may be managed separately in your company. But developing the ideal customer experience and constructing the infrastructure to bring it to fruition need not be done overnight. There are some axioms that can be leaned on to begin an a la carte approach to delivering your prospects a better customer experience.
One such axiom is that prospects are happier the more quickly they are contacted. This evidenced by studies performed on lead close rates where leads contacted in under a minute of their online inquiry were 391% more likely to close. One reason for this is that reaching out to a prospect immediately enables a salesperson to speak to the prospect while they are still thinking about shopping for your product. Put another way, when reps reach out to prospects immediately they connect with the prospect while they still have the prospect hat on. Call them an hour later and they have removed their prospect hat. Call them an hour later and you may not be reaching a prospect as much as you’re reaching a mother trying to give her child dinner. At that point you’re not going to engender much good will; even though you are calling to give her information on a good or service that she requested. Even sales reps who are following all your rules of engagement, speaking politely, trying to be helpful are at a marked disadvantage when the timing is off.
Getting on the phone with prospects fast is a critical component to creating a positive customer experience. And it is a step that can be taken immediately, even in the absence of an overarching customer experience strategy.