Customer Experience (CX) leaders find themselves uniquely positioned to foster collaboration between functions and with customers. As one example, CX often builds an advocacy network of leaders from across customer facing or support functions. Meeting with this team encourages action planning using VOC results and develops a spirit of cooperation and accountability. Customer processes tend to be cross-functional so making improvements depends on people working together across departments.
Perhaps the most strategic collaboration comes when CX drives enables relevant conversations between customers and account teams. Good salespeople have regular conversations with key accounts but always appreciate relevant issues or topics. Teams are equipped to have these conversations by receiving insights or "alerts" from customer feedback or other fresh data combined with following up those customers.
One way to institute giving teams insights is to provide account scorecards or playbooks that size up the state of the customer relationship and update account plans for action. Account planning has become widespread but as reported by the Strategic Account Management Association's research, the challenge is in the executing more than just planning, and collaborating with customers on the plans. Learning what the customers want and what levels of value and service they experience sets up the account team to collaborate with customers in ways that strengthen the working relationship.
A straightforward system of alerts from customer data provides a less formal means of working with sales teams to reap notable impact and customer collaboration; as long as the system includes closing the loop or following up on assigned accounts. In one case an enterprise technology company alerted account teams to selling opportunities or evidence of risk in the business relationship, prompted by customer surveys. Using a process that accounted for follow up by the teams, over 100 million dollars worth of saved or additional revenue was noted by those teams from this effort.
We have seen cases where CX works around or feels uncomfortable dealing with their sales staff, preferring to work with other customer service or support groups. This unfortunately misses the strategic impact that CX could have through the sales or account teams.
And that potential grows with new pressures on sales teams to stay one step ahead of the knowledgeable buyers. The shift in leverage has gone powerfully to the customer buying teams doing their own vendor research and making assumptions about capabilities and the fit of various solutions before talking to your salespeople. Even existing customers will do their own homework on needs and vendors before issuing RFPs.The challenge for sales has become to provide a valuable solution later in the sales cycle -- bringing big ideas and insights beyond what the customer discovers on their own.
The Marketing and Innovation/thought leaders in your company are growing in their responsibilities since customers are accessing more touchpoints under their responsibilities. Customer buying touchpoints beyond those with Sales and closing the deal may include Web content, social media, conferences and thought leaders, contact centers, etc. This may extend the key roles on CX advocacy teams to include Marketing and Product Management.
So the task of CX will be to foster collaboration, but also share insights on to the customer journeys regarding their situation and how well the solution and the experience adds value to their businesses (or not).
To read more on this topic:
Article by Bob Thompson of Customer Think shows how B2B sellers fall short of knowing how their customers buy.