Guest Blog by Todd Hockenberry, of Top Line Results and co-author of Inbound Organization
Predictable Revenue Growth For Industrial and Manufacturing Companies
In Part 1 in this series we discussed how to build a predictable revenue stream for manufacturing companies.
In Part 2 we discussed how connecting with buyers by being helpful is the key to creating a remarkable customer experience and is the next step once a customer focused mission, culture, and messaging are in place.
In Part 3, Align Marketing, Sales, and Service to Make Connections with Buyers, we discussed the need to have a focused and customer oriented customer facing team.
In this article I discuss the result, the outcome for your customer, when you follow these steps.
What Inbound Organizations Do, Deliver A Great Customer Experience
An Inbound Organization understands and thinks about creating a customer experience that covers the entire customer journey from prospect to lead to first purchase through each subsequent interaction.
“Customer experience is the new marketing,” says Brian Solis.
Studies show that this is true, yet few companies apply Inbound marketing ideas to the entire customer journey. Do you create content to attract and connect with people on your blog and then force them to struggle to find information about the product or service after the sale? The same commitment to helping, educating, connecting must remain after the sale. Inbound thinking must apply to the life of the customer journey.
Buyers will pay for a better experience yet most companies have yet to adjust to this clear expectation.
- 86% of buyers will pay more for better customer experience, but only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations
Ok, so you think you do an excellent job with your service and support. I hope you do, but the data shows that most post-sale interactions harm the relationship.
- 80% of customers leave a service interaction LESS loyal
Someone told me a funny story recently. My friend had a problem with his bank and called customer service to resolve it. He was on hold for 15 minutes, and when the service rep finally took his call, his response was, “while I was on hold I used my phone to open up new accounts at another bank, goodbye.”
- 91% of unhappy customers don’t complain, they just leave
And customers have never had more choices or more accessible ways to leave than they do now. This applies to B2B as well as to B2C companies. Your future B2B buyers are those millennials tapping away on their mobile phones, and they will be even more inclined to insist on great customer experience than your current customers. People raised on Amazon, Apple, and Facebook will apply those expectations to all of their interactions with businesses.
Differentiation by Customer Experience - How Inbound Organizations Innovate
As Cerasis Marketing Director Adam Robinson told us for our book, “Inbound Organization: How to Build and Strengthen Your Company's Future Using Inbound Principles”*
"What stood out for us (and still does) is our reputation as the thought leader in our space, our value-added relationships with everyone in our ecosystem, and the superior customer experience we deliver. These are now our competitive advantages." Adam Robinson
A help everyone attitude, with a people first mindset, enabled by online engagement allows companies to deliver truly outstanding customer experience. Companies create lasting differentiation through marketing innovation and providing an extraordinary experience to their customers. Customer success is driven by the alignment of all customer-facing people with the helping strategy. Everyone must buy in.
And one bad experience for the customer ruins it for the entire organization when people buy your products and services at Internet speed. Create an experience that puts them at the center; self-service is excellent service, let the customer choose the pace and the process. Your job is to give them the right info at the right time and help them manage the convoluted buying journey they are on.
In the past, an extraordinary customer experience was only for those that bought luxury items or went only to the best places. People now expect this level of experience from everything. Increased competition makes it easy to change sellers. Technology often provides an easy way to deliver a better solution for an upstart over an established company.
- Do you manage your customer’s journey or do you deliver and then sit back and wait for the phone to ring when they need something?
- Do you plan every step of the onboarding, installation, or startup process so that new customers are impressed with your expertise and experience at starting new relationships?
- Do you track, study, and improve the customer startup process?
- Do you measure customer loyalty (this does not mean just sending a survey) but using tools like NPS (Net Promoter Score) to measure, track, and improve?
- Do you continue to educate your customers with helpful information on a regular basis?
- Do you have an up to date database of all of your existing customers? Don’t laugh, I have clients that have had to go back and rebuild their customer contact lists after ignoring them for years.
- Does your marketing and sales team share with your account management team the specific goals, expectations, and the promises made to the customer during the pre-sale process?
Your Biggest Risk
The most significant risk is not the competition or disruption from technology. This biggest risk for most companies is self-inflicted - not taking care of your customers and allowing them to leave. Your job is to make sure each customer is successful with your product or service. It is to make sure they see value from the investment in you they made and that they keep getting more of it.
I spent $50k on a car and after three year the dealer started with the tired campaign to get me to churn and buy a new car. The old ‘we have a high demand for you model, come in for an estimate pitch’ (this is some car dealer standard campaign, my other car is from a different company and they do the same thing). I told them I was the buy and hold persona and keep my cars for 10+ years. This idea broke their brains, seems they have no offer for a person like me. After five straight months of calls and regular postcards in the mail I asked them to make a note in my account and to stop calling.
They could not or would not stop calling.
So I said, if you call me again I will never step foot in you dealership again and will tell everyone I can about my bad experience, though I was happy with the product the experience was highly annoying and decidedly unhelpful.
Guess what? They called again the next month. I said thanks but you’ll never see me again. The manager called and offered a $50 off coupon for my next service. I said you weren’t listening, I am gone forever. She said she would remove my name form the CRM and not call again - how’s that for a solution!
The next month they called again and to this day still send me the postcards with that same offer to buyback my car.
Would you treat someone face-to-face that way? Would you ask a prospect, much less a customer, the same question 5 times in a row? Is that even remotely how we should treat other humans?
How hard would it have been to have an offer for me? A concierge service for people that want to keep cars for a long time? An expert in car maintenance to be personal advisor? Anything! But they could not even think in these terms.
So I switch dealers for my service and while waiting for my car a lady walks up to me and says ‘we have a high demand for your model and would you like to get an estimate for trade in value?’. I said no and that I keep mine for a long time. She said thanks and walked away. What a wasted opportunity. I was a captive audience and there was not interest in understanding me, my car goals, my plans. Just a script with no interest at all in me.
You may have heard of Inbound Marketing and maybe even Inbound Sales, but to succeed today and beyond, becoming an Inbound Organization will set you apart in the eyes that matter the most, your customers - the ones that already believe in you, love what you are offering, and are begging you to keep helping them for the life of your relationship. Don’t be like my car dealer, be inbound, be what your buyers want you to be.
Inbound Organization, Wiley (2018)*
Todd Hockenberry will be the keynote speaker at Industrial Inbound Summit 2018. Hockenberry will be speaking on the culture of customers first, and why growing sales starts with internal change. The Industrial Inbound Summit is a one-day event, where manufacturers will create custom marketing & sales playbooks with expert instruction from our speakers and on-site marketing advisors. Learn more about this event here.