Even within the most well-oiled enterprise. Or the startup seeking venture capital funding. Or the small contract manufacturing and assembly company.
When your organization solely focuses on winning deals, people, processes and systems gradually can become less effective and experienced at retaining customers.
The root cause of customer inexperience is post-sale customer abandonment.
The folks hunting the sale race off to pursue their next target. Onboarding that new customer is left up to everyone else in your organization who may – or mostly may not – have participated in winning the customer in the first place.
Everyone (including the sales team) “assumes” that everyone else is sticking close to that new customer. Not only that. The assumption is that everyone sticking close to the customer post-sale is functioning like a well-oiled machine.
Hindsight tells us that, in fact, no one may be staying even within arm’s length as the buyer begins their Customer Journey.
Is customer inexperience embedded in your company’s culture and customer retention processes?
Your organization has every best intention of taking good care of new customers as well as existing ones. However, good intentions do not add up to positive customer experiences, customer success and customer retention.
Good intentions, poorly executed, are the hallmark of a corporate culture which reinforces customer inexperience.
While customer experience starts with post-sale customer abandonment, it continues by paying attention to customers only after things go wrong. You, of course, find out that things go wrong after the fact because customer inexperience contributes to lack of proactivity in serving the customer. Then your internal people have to patch things up with their internal people. Again.
That strategy continuously places your organization in fire-fighting mode, reacting to what went wrong and wondering what just happened.
When your selling culture is continuously guilty of post-sale customer abandonment, you stick close to the customer right before customer experience survey time or right around contract renewal time. But not in-between. When you serve customers sporadically, guess what periodic customer experience survey scores look like? (I hope you don’t have a bonus associated with those customer experience scores. Ouch.)
Your customer inexperience is showing, once again. Sticking close to the customer only when there is something in it for you sounds a little bit self-serving, doesn’t it? You may not be fooling your customers, either.
Customer inexperience creates an exclusive, rather than inclusive, customer focus.
Do you focus only on your top customers? Just what makes them “tops” in your book of business?
Sometimes the largest accounts are not our most profitable ones. Other times the largest accounts represent hundreds of smaller projects created for folks with big egos who take up valuable sales, engineering and service time. You are continuously focused on these customers because they can be headaches rather than bringing out your best.
If you suspect that your account base is not as profitable as you think, download this Grade Your Customers worksheet.
Do you ignore smaller accounts? What makes those smaller accounts unimportant? Perhaps these clients represent bigger companies with skeptical decision makers who intimidate you. So you sell smaller projects and product offerings. You end up short-selling your company’s (and your) capabilities to serve their needs. You shy away from sticking close to these accounts because working with their folks makes you uncomfortable. Yet they may be wonderful resources to grow your acumen, and comfort level, if you ask questions about what you do not understand about their business.
Be honest with yourself. If you avoid selling to potentially lucrative clients because technical decision makers are a nightmare to you, download this white paper and overcome this obstacle to selling success.
When you are guilty of customer inexperience, you miss out on working with – and retaining – clients who will bring out the best in you.
Sometimes the best way to overcome your inexperience with how – and why – you do not take good care of customers starts with a little bit of introspection.
Often an effective means of continuing to move beyond customer experience short-sightedness is to discuss your own experiences with an extended internal team of resources. You know who these folks are: they are the people to whom post-sale customer care is relegated. Generate improvements in post-sale customer retention processes which benefit everyone.
While you may not be fully in control of your account base, business development and sales culture, you are in full control of how you execute developing and retaining your customers.
You do not need to take your first steps alone. Contact me . Let’s work together to develop a strategy to identify random acts of customer inexperience in your client base. Then we will work on effectively taking action and remaining proactive.
Babette Ten Haken is a management consultant, strategist, speaker and coach focused on customer success for customer retention in the industrial Internet of Things ecosystem. She traverses the interface between human capital strategy for hiring, developing and implementing teams of collaborative technical, engineering, sales and business professionals. She serves manufacturing- and engineering- intensive companies, catalyzing teams to create enduring business outcomes. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
Image author: Martinan. Image source: Fotolia.