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A Great Customer Experience Is Vital to Long-Term Profitability

There’s a lot of buzz out there lately about the “customer experience.” In addition to wanting good products at a competitive price, customers are demanding high-quality experiences all along the path to purchase, from the very first web visit, to requesting a quote, to making their purchase decisions and beyond. In fact, it’s predicted by Gartner, Inc., the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator. Dr. Tony Alessandra, President of Assessments 24x7, a global leader in online assessments, puts it this way, “Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you in the game. Service wins the game.”
Businessmen shaking hands

Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you in the game. Service wins the game.

– Dr. Tony Alessandra, President of Assessments 24x7

Interactions in real time.

Many companies are certainly finding this to be true. Their customers are more knowledgeable and self-directed, empowered by access to information. More importantly, they’re no longer married to one vendor, and are more open than ever to engaging with new players in the market. And make no mistake; while most of the research centers around B2C interactions, the principles hold true for B2B as well. Customers are looking for fast and easy interactions in real time through their entire experience lifecycle. Former Dell CIO Jerry Gregoire, refers to customer experience as the “next competitive battleground.” It’s the place where companies will differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Opportunities abound.

If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see opportunities to differentiate yourself in the areas of service. Not long ago, one of FLEXcon’s sales representatives had such an opportunity. Her customer was experiencing some challenges navigating our new website, so she contacted our web developer and put together a quick webinar tailored specifically to her customer’s needs and interests. It was a relatively small effort on our part, but for our customer the experience stood out as an example of FLEXcon’s willingness to go the extra mile for them.

Companies that can find a way to provide optimum customer experiences will enjoy strengthened relationships and customer loyalty, which will ultimately impact their bottom lines for the better. According to McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, customer-experience leaders in B2B settings have on average higher margins than their competitors. In addition, companies that engage in transforming their customer experience processes can expect to enjoy higher client-satisfaction scores, reductions in cost to serve, revenue growth, and increased employee satisfaction. In nutshell, an excellent experience = loyalty/engagement = higher sales.

Adaptation is a must.

As customers’ expectations change, it’s necessary to adapt to meet those expectations. The current trend, of course, is toward mobile interaction. More and more customers are doing business via mobile, even when there’s a PC right in front of them, and as the millennial population of our workforce grows, so will such mobile interaction. That’s not to say that traditional channels should be ignored. Rather, the goal is to engage with customers in whatever way will give each individual their best experience. This has a lot of executives looking for ways to adapt to the varying expectations of their customers.

Get employees on board.

While investment in mobile-friendly technology is must, there is another equally important consideration: your work force. If your employees don’t fully understand and recognize the significance of the impact customer experience can have on your business, the chance that you will be able to offer one that differentiates you from the competition is unlikely. Therefore, inclusion of appropriate employee training is crucial to transforming your customers’ experiences.

According to a survey conducted by Oracle, successful executives improved customer experience through initiatives in three key areas:

  1. Employee training and incentive programs for providing a great experience
    Instructing your employees on the customer experience concept and how to execute it, as well as rewarding those who achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, are very important.
  2. Updated core values
    The core values of your company must promote and facilitate an excellent customer experience.
  3. Implementation of specific technology to improve customer experience
    This goes back to being not only mobile-friendly, but making information easily accessible, from order history and billing to real-time project status, as well as individualized communications and marketing.

While devoting profits to something as nebulous as “customer experience” may seem counterintuitive, according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, investing today in tomorrow’s opportunities, product development, customer loyalty, and dedicated employees will pay off over the long term. Just be sure those investments are motivated by customer focus rather than by reaction to competition. Bezos says, “Take a long-term view, and the interests of customers and shareholders align.” If you can earn a gold star with every interaction, over time such exchanges will yield greater customer loyalty, stronger relationships and higher profits.

Want to start a conversation?

Contact Jim Joyce for more information or to uncover what's possible for your company.