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Customer Experience – Why all the hubbub?
Businesses, large and small, have often used cliches like “the customer is king,” and “we treat our customers like family.” However, actual day-to-day interactions have not always matched the boasts. Marketing is undergoing radical change today. The growth of the Internet and social media applications are changing how customers shop and decide. The younger generations get most of their information on smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Seniors are catching up too! Customers and prospects have an amount of data at their fingertips that was unimagined just a few years ago. Today, a business must not only deliver quality products and services at competitive prices, the business must deliver an overall customer experience that exceeds expectations.
Customers expect more choices, and they are getting them. Mass marketing is giving way to offerings custom-tailored to each customer’s wants. No longer are local brick and mortar stores the only game in town. A buyer can access all sources of a particular product or service with a few touches of a mobile device or computer. Websites allow shoppers to compare features and prices of local and distant suppliers, perhaps placing an order for a substantial purchase without ever communicating with a company’s representative. Some products are purchased through a national website and installed by a local affiliate for a set fee, again with a few touches on a mobile phone.
Customer Experience is the missing link. Customers often still opt to make their purchases from familiar sources. Those familiar, local sources provide customers with a relationship, a connection on a human level. Customers return and buy again because they trust the supplier and they are purchasing more than the product or service, they are buying the total experience.
Knowing this, the mail-order suppliers, like amazon.com and specialty firms, focus on building trusting relationships using inside sales people, e-mail confirmations and suggestions, and friendly support. The marketing game pits local supplier personnel against distant but user-friendly mail-order representatives and systems.
For example, let us say that an electronic device is available locally from a store with friendly, but busy people. The same exact device is also available from the manufacturer over their website. The local store representative is asked a technical question that he could not confidently answer. Disappointed, the customer left to ‘think about it.’ That customer later called the manufacturer with the same question and got a friendly response and a full answer he could trust. A relationship with the manufacturer’s tech service person developed from that single interchange. Later, the customer looked at pricing and availability. The product was immediately available from the local store, but the price was about eight percent higher (due to sales tax). The customer elected to order from the manufacturer and wait three to four days for delivery. The difference in price, together with the difference in customer experience tilted the scale in favor of the out-of-state manufacturer. Had the store invested in better technical training for employees the decision might easily have gone the other way.
Looking for better customer acquisition and retention efforts, smart marketers today are developing very sophisticated processes that help create stronger relationships with prospects and existing customers. In addition to the more established marketing methods like news media advertising, mailings, TV and radio spots, much more money and effort is going into Internet and social media projects. Companies are beginning to map out their customer’s total experience, from initial contact through purchase, support, and added purchases, encompassing the entire customer life cycle. Once detailed mapping is established, sophisticated tracking processes take over to help management monitor their customer’s experience. From such efforts, you now see frequent on-line satisfaction surveys by doctor’s groups and hospitals to name just two. Such surveys show that they ‘get it.’
Putting it bluntly, customers, more than ever before, are better informed shoppers. Many cases show that more than 60% of a buyer’s purchase cycle is completed via Internet, social media, and word-of-mouth before a business representative is ever in contact with the prospect! Customer knowledge has changed how marketers must operate. Winning suppliers invest heavily in building relationships with prospects and retaining stronger relationships existing customers. An important part of that investment is in education of staff, where a small difference in preparation and overall customer experience means the difference between making a sale and losing the sale.
“Effective marketing doesn’t take millions. It takes imagination, enthusiasm, and the willingness to experiment and change.”
Richard P. Morgan CMC, FIMC
$ Million Marketing Tips
Tip: You build relationships one interaction at a time. Unfortunately, one bad interaction can negate three positive actions. It pays to prepare your staff to avoid those baddies.
Tip: An important part of marketing is making what you sell easy to buy. Study your processes and interactions with customers. Look for ways to make buying easier for customers.
The Market-focused Guide to Company Analysis by Richard P. Morgan CMC, FIMC
Marketing Facets is a practical resource for those involved in determining the current health of a company and gauging its future prospects. Designed to be a supplement to other due diligence or business evaluation work, the 103-page guidebook takes a holistic approach. The guidebook assembles facts about twenty-five marketing functions along with management assumptions in key areas to help analysts form and support conclusions about the enterprise.
Marketing Facets is a valuable resource for private equity fund managers, individual investors, investment banks, and valuation specialists. C-level executives will find Marketing Facets a helpful guide for internal analysis, as part of normal business planning, or in advance of efforts to refinance or divest.
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Copyright 2015, Morgan Marketing Solutions, Inc.
Richard P. Morgan CMC, FIMC
Morgan Marketing Solutions, Inc.
16814 Park Hill, Dallas, TX 75248-1444
Author, Marketing Facets – The Market-focused Guide to Company Analysis
CMC (Certified Management Consultant) is a mark awarded by the Institute of Management Consultants USA, and represents evidence of the highest standards of consulting and adherence to the ethical canons of the profession. Less than 1% of all consultants have achieved this level of performance and dedication. The CMC process is now recognized as an ISO17024 process. For more information go to www.imcusa.org.