“Much of a muchness.”
That’s one of the nonsensical phrases uttered when Alice in Wonderland joins the Mad Hatter’s tea party. As silly as the phrase sounds, improving customer experience can often feel like “much of a muchness” as well.
Untangling opportunities for improvement, giving clients the support they need, and creating customer success can feel overwhelming and nearly impossible as part of the customer experience big picture.
However, as the Queen said, “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” In honor of those six impossible things, we’ve put together six strategies to create a customer experience that bolsters success for you and your clients.
#1 - Don’t Set Long-Term Goals
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."
– Alice and the Cheshire Cat
Companies, especially SaaS companies, are working in a fast-paced environment where needs and goals can pivot rapidly. Instead of sitting down with a client and demanding to know their five-year plan, discuss how you can work with them to meet their top strategic priorities.
You should certainly not neglect long-term strategic planning for your own company’s efforts. However, investing time in creating a voluminous strategic plan with a client can make you both feel rigidly set on achieving what you’ve outlined.
This can hamstring you if the market changes and a big opportunity is available, because you may feel too married to your goal-setting to make a necessary pivot to success.
#2 - Work Backward
“Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
Rather than taking the King’s words at face value, let's reverse them.
When you’re building a customer experience, instead of creating a plan and sticking with it, it can make sense to find your desired end result, then work backward to figure out how to build the solution.
This isn’t a particularly new and innovative strategy; it’s one that Steve Jobs famously espoused. However, it’s one that’s easier to talk about than it is to put into action.
Working forward often creates a product that you think you want, rather than creating the product that a customer really needs. Talk to your customers; understand the way they want to do business, then work backward to figure out where your customer is falling short and how you can create what makes sense for both you and them.
#3 - Stop Doing the Work
“But it’s no use now,” thought poor Alice, “to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!”
Just as poor Alice couldn’t be two people, neither can you. And, neither can your sales team.
In order to improve customer experience, you need team members who are dedicated to creating an exceptional one.
Asking your talented and specialized sales team to commit their time and resources to customer success is a non-starter; you need to maximize their value by focusing them on generating new business. However, it’s equally of no use to ignore customer success altogether.
What’s the solution, then?
Either you can employ an internal team or you could outsource your customer success efforts to a team of experts. By employing an outsourced customer success team, you gain the knowledge and experience of a dedicated team, without the exorbitant expense in both time and money required to recruit and retain them.
With outsourced customer success professionals on deck, your clients will benefit from having a team invested in getting them the maximum value and ROI from their purchase/investment.
When you have a team focused on customer success working for you, you can expect a focus on deepening client relationships, increasing satisfaction, and creating valuable success stories that keep your current clients loyal and help you continue building your client base in the future.
#4 - Get the Big Picture, Have All the Conversations
“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”
Just as Alice can’t fathom a good book without pictures or conversations, you also can’t have a good customer experience unless you can see the big picture. And you can’t see the big picture without conversations that tell you how your customers think.
Net Promoter Score (NPS), for example, can give you an idea of whether your customers are happy with you – and it’s an important metric to get an overall view of your customer health.
In addition to NPS, though, ask your customers other questions. Your customer experience should center on what your customers have to say, how they want to use the product, and what pain points are causing them grief.
If your NPS scores are weak, you shouldn’t stress and create campaigns focused on boosting those numbers. Instead, stress about what’s behind the lower scores and work to change those things; the increase in scores and success will come as the customer experience-related changes are made.
Implement a variety of customer information-gathering techniques, including surveys that are focused on specific actions. Even better, involve your high/long-term value customers in the process of developing new functionalities.
#5 - Hearing Isn’t Believing; Seeing Plus Hearing May Be
“The best way to explain it is to do it.” – The Dodo
In combination with our previous strategic suggestion, not believing what you hear can sound somewhat counterintuitive. But here’s the thing – customers may tell you one thing, then do something that’s completely opposite.
In the consumer banking industry, for example, customers almost always (90% of the time, actually) say they want a branch location near their homes.
However, the data doesn’t support this, as many of these customers never set foot in a branch. While its security-blanket presence may influence their loyalty, it’s up to the individual bank to determine whether maintaining locations makes financial sense.
In the same way, your customers may tell you they want and need something, like a certain feature or a certain type of results. Listen to them, but take a look at the data to see if it correlates with what they’re saying.
You may be able to pick up on additional insights to share with them, or to redirect them to another feature or goal that makes more sense.
If you’re using this strategy, it should be emphasized that your goal isn’t to actually tell the customer that they’re wrong. Instead, it should be to get past what they’re saying, understand what they’re feeling (and doing), then act on it.
#6 - Sell, Sell, Sell
"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" – The Queen of Hearts
Constant selling really can feel like running in place. Add that to the fact that you need to upsell and cross-sell to grow your customers’ lifetime value, and the pressure can become intense.
The idea of constant selling doesn’t appeal to everyone. However, ongoing sales is a huge part of the best customer experience.
The best sales strategy with existing/long-term customers should come completely naturally, because these sales should be focused on improving the experience for your customers.
If your customer success team is in sync with your customers’ needs and goals, they’ll be able to determine where your company’s products/services could enhance those customers’ business efforts.
Customer experience-based selling, then, isn’t sales at all; it’s offering a solution and making it possible for your customers to reach their goals. Working with a team that’s curious, committed, and creative in regard to the customer experience can make all the difference.
Have you been involved with creating customer experiences? What’s your biggest hurdle? Share it in the comments below:
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