Poor customer experiences result in an estimated $83 billion loss by US enterprises each year because of defections and abandoned purchases. Unfortunately, though, most marketers remain unsure about how to improve relationships with today’s empowered consumers. What “exactly” should you be doing? How can you start creating a better customer experience?
For insights, I sat down with Bob Thompson, CEO of CustomerThink Corp., an independent research and publishing firm focused on customer-centric business management, and Founder/Editor-in-Chief of CustomerThink.com, the world’s largest community dedicated to customer-centric business. Bob is a popular keynote speaker, blogger and author of numerous reports, articles and papers. His book The Five Habits of Customer-Centric Leaders will be published in Q3, 2013. He made it very clear:
The first step towards creating a better customer experience is to put the customer at the center of all you do. Here are four ways you can begin doing that today:
Start thinking in terms of Buyer Experience Management.
As Bob explained, Buyer Experience Management (BXM) means understanding how buyers perceive their interactions with a brand, and then delivering value during those interactions so buyers (and non-buyers) become brand advocates.
Thinking in terms of BXM helps tear down silos, especially the ones between sales and marketing.
“Keep in mind that one of the big problems in B2B marketing/sales is the silo mentality,” Bob told me. “Marketing generates leads, sales closes deals. Each has their own set of goals and processes. Left out is an appreciation for what buyers are going through as they navigate from marketing to inside sales to field sales.”
A derivative of Customer Experience Management (CEM), BXM focuses on the marketing/sales function. It’s a way of looking at the buyers’ complete journey as they perceive it.
“The core issue is that marketing is still viewed by most as pushing a message and/or generating leads. It’s part of the ‘CRM’ mentality which is really company-centric – designed to extract value, not add value,” Bob said. “BXM is about taking a customer-centric view of the buyer’s journey, and asking how the buying experience is adding value and creating loyalty, even with prospects that don’t end up buying.”
Take a walk in your customers’ shoes.
Bob estimates that less than 10% of B2B firms truly understand what experience buyers receive, even though virtually all agree that experience is important to revenue performance. Granted, B2C firms may not be quite as infected, with ‘silo-itis,’ but Bob suspects similar problems exist for B2C marketers, as well.
“These are gaps that must be closed,” he stressed. “Leaders must be ‘fired up’ about CEM / BXM or progress will be slow and limited. Good customer/buyer research is essential to figuring out what the target market really values, and what they are experiencing on their journey. You can’t be ‘value adding’ unless you know what customers think is valuable!”
I wholeheartedly agree. It’s time to stop walking the talk. For instance, as one of your first priorities you need to . . .
Eliminate touchpoint amnesia.
A truly satisfying omnichannel experience requires an integrated approach. According to Bob, a lack of channel integration clashes with consumer expectations –and it negatively impacts sales.
“Companies have automated channels bit by bit, so they can claim to be multi-channel. Yet customers find (about 80% of the time, in my research) that a multi-touch experience is not remembered. I call this “touchpoint amnesia and found that it has significantly reduced customer loyalty and propensity to buy,” he told me. “Omni-channel experiences should make it easy to customers to navigate channels as they wish, and not lose information the customer has already provided.”
Regular readers here are familiar with my mantra: Execute. Evaluate. Evolve. Our industry is exciting and dynamic, and marketers must keep learning as they continue to drive change throughout their organizations. What can you do to stay up-to-date?
For starters, the CustomerThink website offers a wealth of content from many of the world’s leading authorities on Customer Experience Management. Bob also recommends joining the CXPA, a non-profit organization for CX professionals, where he is on the Board.
How well do you know the customer experience you’re offering buyers? What steps can you take today to improve it? What are you doing already that is working well and could benefit other readers?
This articles was originally posted on Forbes.com.
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