Beyond the Sale: Maximize Impact Throughout the Customer Experience
Isn’t customer experience (CX) just post-sales support and service?
That’s what many think when the topic comes up, but it is much bigger than just post-sales. Customers’ experiences and impressions of a company, product or service are shaped by every interaction that customer has with the brand. Beyond that, it is not just about the interactions with the organization. Anyone downstream from the brand that plays a role in selling or delivering the good or service (i.e., channel partners) can and does have an impact on the customer experience.
Every touchpoint a customer has with the brand (or a third party representing the brand) can start to sway a customer’s impression of the brand – both good and bad. The website experience and the marketing outreach can shape the experience in the information-gathering stage of the purchase decision. The pre-sales and sales stage is where customers are being sold on the value of the offering, and expectations are set by the sellers. Post-sale implementation or delivery is the customer’s first chance to see your company’s products and solutions in action. And finally, ongoing service, support and relationship management are where companies must ensure customers are receiving the value they have been sold.
Alexander Group research shows that leading1 manufacturers and distributors who focus on and invest in their customer experience programs see a dramatic increase in their top and bottom lines (+11 points of higher revenue growth and +9 points of EBITDA margin). Beyond the P&L, they are seeing higher customer retention at +44%, better account penetration at +35% and more effective new logo acquisition at +77%.
The case for why companies should invest in their customer experience programs is clear. Alexander Group’s research shows that that most leaders in CX have four core tenets of their programs that are well-defined and executed:
- CX Vision and Strategy
- Customer Engagement
- Goals and Measurement
- Process, Plays and Tools
CX Vision and Strategy
Companies with leading CX programs have a documented and communicated vision and strategy for CX that permeates through their organizations. There is executive-level interest, buy-in and support along with a defined cross-functional ownership model in which stakeholders participate, understanding when and what their role is in driving out the CX strategy.
- Bottomline: Get the vision and strategy documented, get executive buy-in and make sure you engage the right stakeholders from across the organization.
As mentioned, CX is shaped by every interaction that a customer has with the brand. Companies that lead in CX ensure that each function and job that encounters a customer understands the role they play in impacting CX. Beyond customer-facing roles, functions like Revenue Operations can become the operational arm of the CX strategy, bringing insights and analytics to customer-facing teams to improve outcomes and customer experience.
- Bottomline: CX cannot live in siloed pockets of the organization. CX also cannot fall on one function as the sole party responsible for driving CX. Succeeding with your CX strategy requires shared ownership from across the organization.
Goals and Measurement
Every initiative needs goals and metrics to determine progress, and CX is no exception. Best-in-class CX-focused companies have specific metrics tied to the initiative. Some also have CX metrics differentiated by customer segment and product type. The two most used CX metrics are customer conversion rate and satisfaction & effort scores. Other common ones are customer retention, net revenue retention and net promotor score. CX leaders use a variety of methods to link CX goals with customer needs including satisfaction surveys, continuing education, voice of customer surveys, reviews and ratings, and customer events. Lastly, establish the plan for how insights and feedback get actioned in your organization; be ready to answer the question, “What are we going to do about it?”
- Bottomline: Set specific KPIs that your organization is aiming to achieve. Note: tying those goals back to revenue-impacting ones will get more executive interest (i.e., conversation rate, revenue retention, churn, existing customer growth). Determine the method for gathering customer feedback. Create a plan for how findings and takeaways get communicated across your organization.
Process, Plays and Tools
Companies that lead in CX have a clear operating rhythm for their organization’s CX program. They take insights and turn them into actions that different functions can act upon. They help determine how CX insights can shape R&D, marketing, sales process, implementation, post-sales service and support, and ongoing account management. They also determine what tools are needed to better meet the expectations of customers. Examples of technology tool investments include customer data platforms, CRM systems, service and support, social media and web monitoring, and customer feedback tools.
- Bottomline: This is how CX programs come to life. This is where information learned through surveys, feedback and insights gets plugged back into the organization to shape or reshape the way things get done. Ideally, this becomes a self-perpetuating cycle where companies can learn and improve and begin to see a positive impact on their top and bottom lines.
CX extends far beyond post-sales support, encompassing every touchpoint in a customer’s journey. The impact of interactions spans from initial impressions to ongoing relationship management. Compelling statistics including higher revenue growth, increased customer retention and more effective new logo acquisition underscore the benefits of a dedicated investment in CX strategy. Understanding these four pivotal tenets is essential to elevate your customer experience and position your organization as a leader in a landscape where every interaction has a hand in shaping success.
1CX Leaders are defined as the top quartile of the Alexander Group Customer Experience Index. The Customer Experience Index scores companies based on their CX maturity.