For any of you who are working in departmental or conceptual silos, here is an equation for you to keep in mind this week. Collaboration + Customer Engagement = Customer Experience. Input + Throughput = Output.
The equation is anything but straight-line and has some serious strategic ramifications for business development and sales.
Collaboration involves input: from colleagues, from customers, from data, from stuff you can measure and from insights and ideas whose current value cannot be measured.
What does collaboration look like in your organization and your customers’ organizations? How well do you collaborate with others?
Customer Engagement involves throughput: with colleagues (your internal customers), with external customers, with data, with the stuff you can measure, with those insights and ideas whose current value cannot be measured. Engagement mixes everything together, creates possibilities and pathways, theories and opportunities, refinement, modification, redefinition. Engagement creates new areas for synthesis or leads to eventual dead ends.
Customer engagement mandates comparisons, evaluations, prioritizations. How well do you engage and evaluate with your collaborative colleagues?
Customer Experience involves output: to colleagues, to customers, into situational application and usage. Customer experience is the final, yet ongoing, output of collaboration. Except this time, you and your company, product, service and platform are entering into what you hope will be a long-term collaborative relationship with your customers.
How involved are you in maintaining collaborative and engaging relationships whose focus is your customers’ collective experiences, post sale?
Collaboration with your customers and their collective, long term experiences requires you to remain engaged with them throughout the duration of their relationship with you, your startup, and your company.
This scenario is not a matter of collaborating to create a favorable customer experience over the short haul so that you and your company make your numbers this quarter.
How long is your business and sales attention span?
Your customers may want to maintain a lifelong relationship with you and your company.
- That scenario is strategic and then some.
- That expectation involves more than product lifecycle management.
- That type of customer experience may involve more time than you intend to spend with your current employer.
When you collaborate with colleagues and customers, consider how you can focus on succession and legacy. Consider developing a process for handing off your sales role to a new rep in the event that you leave or an account is transferred. This type of collaboration may insure that your customers don’t feel jilted and their account isn’t lost to competition.
What happens when your customer’s company is involved in a merger and acquisition? What type of engagement discussion can you have, today, with your customer in order to develop a process for transition within that scenario, tomorrow?
So many of us focus on researching trigger events we can leverage to win the sale. By remaining engaged and collaborative post sale, we have an opportunity to create a long-term customer experience for ourselves and our customers. The end result can equate to nothing short of creating a loyal and retained customer base.
Collaboration + Customer Engagement = Customer Experience. That equation has tangible value to you, your company and your customer. Something to chew on this week?
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes collaborative business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers, engineers, small and midmarket manufacturers, and technical startups. Her book on collaboration strategies and tools, Do YOU Mean Business? Technical / Non-Technical Collaboration, Business Development and YOU, is available on Amazon.com.