Focus on World-Class, Part 3: Brand Promise and Customer Experience
Aug 24 2017
In this 12-part series, each post examines one of the 12 best practices identified in the 2017 CSO Insights World-Class Sales Practices Report. Today’s best practice: “We deliver a consistent customer experience that lives up to and aligns with our brand promise.”
Each year, we survey thousands of sales leaders around the world and analyze their input against sales performance metrics to identify the critical few organizational practices that are most positively linked to sales revenue, quota, win rate and seller retention success.
In 2017, for the first time, we expanded the “sales” practices we explore to include practices that propel customer interactions before and after traditional sales and account management processes. Two of these new practices showed strong enough correlation to make our top 12 list for 2017. The first is the subject of this blog: “We deliver a consistent customer experience that lives up to and aligns with our brand promise.”
The brand promise is the experience that you commit to provide customers when they interact with your organization, your people and your products/services. Customers evaluate whether or not you are living up to that promise every time they engage, starting from the very first impression. The goal is to meet or exceed their expectations and do so consistently over the course of the customer relationship.
Key interactions are driven from many sources: marketing campaigns, sales process steps, and ultimately the servicing and support portions of your business.
As noted in the 2017 World-Class Sales Practices Study, 89% of World-Class performers agree or strongly agree that they consistently live up to their brand promise. Conversely, only 36% of the survey population overall agreed or strongly agreed. This is a huge gap and a testament to just how difficult this can be. It is one thing to know what your brand promise is, another to live up to it and an entirely different level of success to do so consistently.
As an example, a global telecomm company promised its small business customers high-touch experiences, appropriate (not necessarily lowest) cost and extremely high performance. This promise started with advertising intended for its consumer customers (after all, small business owners are individuals first) and carried through to a high-touch, in-person sales experience.
However, post-sale interactions were mostly handled on a reactive basis. And, without proactive refinement of service plans, offerings could quickly be viewed as expensive and misaligned. To improve customer retention post-sale, the organization: changed role definitions and tasks for its service and customer success positions, formalized sales and service collaboration and created analytical tools to for service associates to use to predict and mitigate attrition risk.
“Customer experience” strategies are too often reduced to disconnected customer service training programs or rallying behind a central customer-centric philosophy. To achieve World-Class:
- Clarify with Marketing your unique “brand promise” and its specific attributes. Hone in on the aspects driven by people.
- Communicate that understanding broadly throughout all parts of the organization. It’s not just customer-facing resources who need to know. Everyone needs to understand how what they do affects delivery of the promise.
- Consider your processes which impact customer experience. As customer relationships move from ‘sales’ to ‘service’, ensure a seamless handoff and a common language. You should feel like one company, not two…or more.
- Measure the customer experience by collecting quantitative and qualitative information directly from customers. Don’t just make assumptions on whether you are living up to what you promise. Ask.
- Share that data across your organization and put in place the cross-functional teams needed to act on it.
Often, Sales, Service and Marketing operate in silos as a result of size and complexity. Yet, World-Class performers manage to unite those functions by defining and consistently delivering the brand promise in every interaction along the customer experience.
- Do you have a brand promise and a clearly understood definition of customer experience?
- Do all employees understand how their roles and activities contribute to that experience?
- Are Marketing, Sales and Service integrated to encompass the full scope of customer experience?
- Do you know how your customers view their experience? How?
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