Much has been written on how these two key components work together. Most opinions highlight that both are in fact important. I agree with this perspective, but when push comes to shove, which do you prioritize? Quite simply, the outcomes fall into four categories:
- Good Experience / Good Outcome – Easy renewal, and an opportunity to expand. You are generating value for your customer. These are the customers that will lead your advocacy efforts inside their organization, that you can leverage for references and referrals.
- Bad Experience / Good Outcome – Likely to churn, unless switching costs are very high and/or there are no other alternatives. Effective listening paths will help you tune into these accounts quickly, so you can apply service/experience recovery efforts.
- Good Experience / Bad Outcome – Economically, these customers would be likely to churn, but because of the relationship you have, they are likely to work collaboratively to achieve their desired outcome. Here, you want to take another approach to the onboarding phase.
- Bad Experience / Bad Outcome – These customers will churn. When this happens to you, we recommend you engage a third party to conduct a churned customer interview and apply these learnings in your organization. Making these customers feel listened to can also reduce the possibility that they will become an active detractor.
Based on these likely outcomes, prioritizing the experience is the right play. My colleague and friend Dan Bernoske lays out how these experiences are related in this related article: https://salesbenchmarkindex.com/insights/4-elements-of-superior-customer-success-and-customer-experience/
Executing a great Customer Experience is clearly important. How do you execute on this strategy?
- Establish Listening Paths – These provide both account specific insights as well as the ability to scale across your enterprise. When starting this journey, here is what we start with
- Customer Interviews – These are 20-minute phone interviews of customers currently using your product, that are not currently in a buying cycle.
- Win/Loss Interviews – These are direct phone conversations with customers who recently completed their purchase cycle. Losses can be prospects that chose a competitor, but they can be an existing customer who chose not to purchase an upgrade.
- Churned Customer Interviews – these are customers who chose to no longer buy any products from you. As painful as these are, the insights you will receive are incredibly valuable, and need to be cascaded through your organization.
- Customer Survey –Ideally, you can touch each person once per year. You want to split this up, so you can receive these in an ongoing basis. This is likely where you will calculate your Net Promoter Score, but you can analyze the results by persona, industry, etc. Be sure to ask for verbatim comments and to mine these for insights.
- This is not a one-time exercise, and you must maintain these and push the insights across the organization.
- Build the Journey Map – These listening paths will help you establish your first view of the Customer Journey. As Nobel Prize winners Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman pointed out nearly 40 years ago, humans avoid pain more than they seek joy.
- Your priority is to fix the touchpoints that cause pain for your clients. This is often a cross-functional exercise and may include touchpoints you did not expect (i.e., billing, contracting).
- If you are in the fortunate position where you do not have any pain points, this is where you could create a memorable experience that delights your customers. When looking at these, you want to prioritize along two factors:
- Your customer’s emotional vulnerability. Frequently, these are the touches immediately after a purchase decision has been made, you want to reinforce their decision, and make them feel safe.
- Earlier is better. This is your opportunity to set the tone for your customers. You can pre-empt competitive threats.
In the B2B world, we cannot dismiss the importance of delivering on the outcomes. At day’s end, you need to deliver an ROI. But never forget, humans make these decisions, and choose to buy from people that they like and trust. To do this, you need to listen, make them feel important, and understand their problems. This requires an emotional connection.
Prior to joining SBI, Fred held a variety of leadership positions with multinational Fortune 50 companies. He has worked in product/program/channel management, sales operations, and served as a Chief of Staff. www.salesbenchmarkindex.com
UnitedHealth Group: Senior Director,
GE Money: Sr. Manager, Strategic Initiatives
JP Morgan Chase: Vice President, National Lease Product Manager
GE Capital: Various