Experiences trump things.
For instance, what if you could experience playing with a cute kitten for a day, without the responsibility of actually having to own it?
So how can this knowledge help you use customer service to build sales?
Combine it with the insight that your best prospects are your current customers.
Convincing someone to continue to use you is much easier than convincing someone to give you a try. And in today’s marketplace, customer experience is the differentiating factor which plays the biggest role in determining whether a customer stays loyal, or looks elsewhere.
It’s vital for customer service centers to understand how customer experience fits in with sales and revenue. This two-part series examines what role customer service can, and should, play in driving repeat sales and revenue.
Millennials focus on experience
As Millennials rise in spending power and influence, brands must increasingly cater to their preferences. This generation prefers experience over ownership. Spending on travel is booming, especially among young travelers, who represent 20% of international tourism. And marketers are spending more on festivals than ever before, trying to get in front of Millennials.
Indeed, in many ways the entire music industry has been Phish-ified, with revenues for artists shifting from profits from physical copies of music to live performances.
Further proof of a preference for sharing over owning is found in the rise of the sharing economy, with their Millennial-heavy ranks of founders and customers. Sharing beats owning, from Uber to newer entrants like Spinlister, which facilitate sharing of expensive household items and bikes, respectively.
The key lesson from these companies is that, as mentioned in the intro, experience trumps things. Not only does this impact what Millennials purchase, but what makes them buy (like playing with kittens for a day).
Experience is important to everyone
According to Mckinsey, “Delivering great journeys can boost revenues 10–15 percent, lower costs to serve 10–20 percent, and increase employee engagement 20–30 percent.” How does providing a merely average customer experience impact “likelihood to remain/renew” and “likelihood to buy another product?” Mckinsey found it worth about 5–10% less. But going from average to excellent is worth 30–50% more in those same industries.
Harvard Business Review reported that “Organizations able to skillfully manage the entire experience reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction. They also discover more-effective ways to collaborate across functions and levels, a process that delivers gains throughout the company.”
Realizing this, British Airways recently replaced their CMO role with a new post: Director of Customer Experience. They’re not alone. The 2015 Digital Trends report, from Econsultancy and Adobe, surveyed 6,000 marketing, digital and ecommerce professionals. The vast majority of respondents, 78%, are trying to differentiate through customer experience.
The straight and narrow path is gone
The path to purchase isn’t linear. According to Mckinsey, “Customer journeys today are a complex series of interactions across multiple channels and platforms, where each point of contact has the potential to further the sale or derail it entirely.” And B2B customers typically prospect with no less than six channels.
While the funnel still exits, customers now wind through it, and go up and down while considering their options.
No matter how customers travel through it, however, GoSquared, covering Dave McClure’s Pirate Metrics for startups, reports that “Incredible customer support will impact every part of the funnel.”
Like marketing, “Traditional sales methodologies are an artifact of the old-world that have languished for far too long,” writes Christine Crandell for Forbes. There is a type of relationship that today’s customers will pay extra for, and it does not look like traditional sales. Crandell is making a case for putting responsibility for customer experience-making on Sales.
The argument is compelling, as revenue is the traditional purview of Sales, and customer experience now so directly impacts revenue. “Maybe support should take more responsibility for customer’s lifetime experience, but that department is usually staffed with technical, rather than business, experts and measured on the speed of ‘one-and-done’ instead of persistent satisfaction and engagement.”
Indeed, this is an accurate assessment of many support departments. But this indictment should be a call to action for support.
Part two will delve into how customer service teams can best support Sales.
What role does customer experience play in your sales and marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments!
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