As consumers today, we are regularly bombarded with surveys, recorded calls to ensure quality, and platforms such as Yelp to voice our pleasure or dismay as the case may be. As businesses providing products and/or services our focus has been increasingly directed away from purely transactional tenets toward relationships. The “Customer Experience” or “CX” is now a primary source for competitive advantage especially given the arsenal of knowledge consumers bring to a first engagement.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) member, Matt Mickiewicz, wrote a Forbes.com article in December 2011 entitled, “Why Customer Service is the New Marketing”, and included his three golden rules (followed by my take-aways):
1. Think long-term reputation vs. short-term profit—a single interaction can seal your fate; consider the life of the relationship before offering your course of action.
2. Identify your top customers and make them feel special—they already love you and it often takes minimal effort and/or cost on your part to sweeten their experience from time to time.
3. Make yourself available—in the age convenience it’s not difficult to forward calls from the office to your smart phone and take a call during “off hours” now and then; the resulting positive customer satisfaction growth can be exponential.
In a recession as deep as the US and global economies have experienced these last 5+ years, the long and the short of it is this—not only must your product or service be compelling enough to capture attention and gain business in the first place, it must also provide an exemplary level of on-going benefit to the customer.
With this in mind, one approach is for companies to track their customer satisfaction scores through in-house surveys as well as non-commissioned studies of multiple competitors in a single industry both of which are conducted by third-party vendors such as CustomerSat.com. In the case of ShoreTel, a multi-national, telecommunications manufacturer based in Sunnyvale, CA, they rely heavily on their highly rated customer satisfaction scores (sent 60-90 days after product/service implementation) as part of a key positioning strategy.
Their use of the Net Promoter Score in sales demonstrations provides a persuasive visual of the commitment to building relationships rather than simply turning a profit. Focusing on a 60+ NPS score (50 is considered world-class on the -100-+100 scale) in comparison to well-known brands helps the client to categorize ShoreTel as a trusted name as well as, again, emphasizing the importance of their customer experience.
As a next step, a slide composed of non-commissioned data gathered by Hart-Hankes offering ShoreTel’s placement against their industry competitors drives home the dedication to a customer-centric partnership.
In hyper-competitive, rapidly changing environments companies cannot afford to rely solely on their past successes or future technological advancements as a strategy for long-term profitability. ShoreTel and other businesses recognize the value of an exceptional customer experience and have taken steps to not only ensure the initial interaction between customer and company representative, website, and product/service is effectual but also that their target markets are informed of the positive engagements. A fully integrated, customer focused approach that factors the savvy consumer into the equation is critical.
*Team C–Josh Hobgood and Stacey Moynahan