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  • Larry Barker

Why customer experience is the currency of 2022

Customer experience is how your customers feel about the sum of their interactions with your brand. It’s what shapes their perception of you. It includes every touchpoint and every interaction, from the first time a prospect sees an ad to the day they renew their contract.

Think about any company you’ve ever interacted with. Was it a good or bad experience? 

Whether you ended up doing business with them or not, they created some kind of experience for you. It’s inevitable. Every business—from your local mechanic to an e-commerce shop to a B2B sales platform—creates an experience for their prospects and customers. That experience directly influences whether you purchase from them or not. 

Customer experience (CX) used to be an afterthought for most companies. Each team within an organization functioned separately, with its own goals and priorities. This meant that when a customer was handed from marketing to sales to support, the experience often varied significantly.

You can’t afford to take that approach if you want to set yourself apart from your competition today. Creating a consistently excellent customer experience—which starts long before a prospect actually signs a contract—is the single best way to differentiate yourself and grow your market share in 2022. 

What is customer experience?

Customer experience is how your customers feel about the sum of their interactions with your brand. It’s what shapes their perception of you. It includes every touchpoint and every interaction, from the first time a prospect sees an ad about your product to the day they decide to renew their subscription.

Annette Franz, founder of CX Journey, puts it this way: “Customer experience is the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with an organization over the life of the relationship with that company or with that brand.”

Customer experience is a holistic term, which means it includes your buyer experience. Some organizations—including Qwilr—use these terms interchangeably, while others consider the “buyer experience” to be up to the point of sale, after which it becomes the “customer experience.” Choose whichever term works for you, just know that what really matters is making things easy and smooth for prospects and customers across their entire lifecycle. 

The consequences of a bad customer experience

If you don’t invest in creating a good customer experience, you’ll feel the consequences. You’ve seen it on your social media feeds already—colleagues venting about bad experiences, asking for recommendations of new products, and so on.

The data backs up these firsthand personal experiences. If you can’t create a good experience, then:

  • Sales will be harder. 90% of American consumers consider customer service a key factor in deciding whether to do business with a company (Microsoft)
  • Retention will be harder. After more than one bad experience, about 80% of people say they would rather do business with a competitor (Zendesk)

Your sales team can hustle to close deals all day long, but it may be for nothing if you ignore the experience you’re creating for your customers once they’ve signed up. Something as small as a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 25-95%. 

If you’re creating a negative experience—even if it’s unintentional—then you’re going to have major challenges retaining customers for the long haul. 

The ROI of a great customer experience

On the flip side, research also shows that making investments to improve your buyer and customer experience should be a no brainer:

  • They’ll spend more. 52% of customers said they’ll pay more if they knew they’ll receive a great customer experience (Hyken)
  • They’ll stay longer. Customers with good past experiences are significantly likely to remain customers longer—perhaps up to six times as long as those with poor experiences (HBR)
  • You’ll be more profitable. Customer-centric companies (those who orient their operations to create a positive experience across the whole customer journey) are 60% more profitable than companies not focused on the customer (Deloitte)

Why does buyer experience matter now more than ever?

In 2022 (and beyond), delivering an excellent buying experience is a critical part of driving revenue and retaining customers. And while the above statistics show the impact of good or bad customer experience, what they don’t highlight is how urgent a stand-out buyer experience is. 

Companies like Amazon and Apple have driven a shift in consumer expectations over the last decade. Prospects and customers now expect things like personalization, fast responses, and information sharing across departments. These things used to be a differentiator, but they’re now becoming expected norms.

A great digital experience is now table stakes. It’s a basic expectation of your customers. And if you can’t at least deliver on that, you risk being left behind.  

On top of this, your customers now have louder voices than ever before. The ever-increasing influence of social media means that it’s easier than ever for an average customer to share their experience with your brand. Esteban Kolsky, CX Evangelist at SAP, estimates that around 13% of customers tell more than 15 people when they’ve had a negative experience.

If creating an exceptional buyer experience hasn’t been a priority for you in the past, then 2022 is the year it should become one. 

Who is responsible for customer experience?

As a sales leader, you’re probably primarily concerned about creating a great buying experience. You want to make sure that every lead and prospect your team engages with has a smooth and easy purchasing journey. Right on.

That makes sense, but if you stop there you’re in trouble. 

Many companies in the last few years have made the mistake of viewing CX as just another task to be done. Creating a good customer experience becomes the responsibility of the marketing team or the support team, and that’s it.

If only it were that easy.

Customer experience is by nature a cross-functional endeavor. It spans the entire customer lifecycle, which means every team in your organization has a role to play. Here’s a simple example showing the responsibilities of different teams across your company:

  • Product/Engineering/Design: Build a product that effectively solves real pain points for your target customers
  • Marketing: Clearly and honestly communicate the benefits, features, and limits of your product to buyers
  • Sales: Effectively guide buyers through their purchasing journey
  • Customer Support: Provide fast and effective help to customers having trouble
  • Customer Success: Proactively help customers achieve their desired outcomes and use your product successfully
  • Finance: Process payments accurately and on-time

If any of these teams drop the ball, your customer experience will take a hit. Customer experience— and buyer experience— is a team game, through and through. 

The cross-functional nature of customer experience is why we’ve seen a huge rise in the number of companies creating Chief Customer Officer or Chief Experience Officer roles in the last decade. While bottom-up efforts from individual teams can have a positive impact, companies are recognizing that crafting an excellent overall experience often requires top-down leadership and cross-organization collaboration.

In short, customer experience isn’t just a task on anyone’s to-do list. It’s a foundational philosophy that needs to be embedded throughout your entire organization. 

How to start building a better customer experience

Building a better customer experience isn’t easy, but sales leaders are uniquely positioned to help improve the buyer experience within most organizations. 

Here’s why that is (and how you can help).

You know and understand your customers

You can’t create a differentiated customer experience if you don’t know your customers, and who knows your buyers better than your sales team? Your team spends all day, every day speaking with prospects about their pain points and desired outcomes. 

Of course, your first goal is to close deals and hit targets, but don’t stop there. The insights and data gleaned from your conversations with prospects are incredibly valuable:

  • Share your insights with other teams across your company to help them understand your customers.
  • Help teams like Product and Engineering prioritize initiatives based on the impact to experience, not just whether it will help you close more deals. 
  • Create a feedback loop with your Marketing team to help inform and evolve your buyer personas and improve your lead qualification process.

You’ve got an influential seat at the table

Sales teams are in the spotlight at most companies. You’re driving the revenue, and that typically means your voice carries a lot of weight. 

As a sales leader, you’ve got a great opportunity to use your voice to advocate for an improved buyer experience. This often means getting involved in cross-functional conversations with leaders from other departments to share and understand what’s on buyers’ minds. It means finding ways to act as an advocate for your future and current customers.

You’ve probably got access to a lot of data and tools

At a minimum, you probably have a CRM and some kind of revenue reporting tool. If you’re like most organizations, your sales tech stack is probably a lot larger than that. You may even have a full-fledged sales or revenue operations team to enable your sales engine.

How can you put those tools and resources to use to help create a better customer experience?

  • What if you integrated your tools to automate repeated sales processes, allowing sales reps to focus on delivering a more tailored buyer experience?
  • What if you freed up a few hours per week to have a reporting analyst look at how Net Promoter Scores (NPS) influence customer retention, then analyze what customer segments have the highest NPS scores?
  • What if next time a renewal for your SaaS product occurred, you sought input from other teams to understand how the features selection impacts their ability to serve customers and the overall renewal rate?

These are just a few specific examples, but this kind of broad thinking is how you can begin to play a part in improving your overall customer experience. Just remember, a great customer experience begins with a memorable buyer experience.

For more on how Qwilr can help you create a stand-out buyer experience, we invite you to book a demo today.

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