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Customer centric businesses invest the whole team focus on supporting their prospective and existing customers. This doesn't just mean sales and customer service, but accounting, marketing and other departments as well. Customer centric sales require
In this article, I provide a step-by-step guide to becoming a more customer centric business to drive improved sales and customer retention. Let’s take a look at the first of 5 steps:
Step 1: Develop a Customer Centric Understanding of Buyer Behavior
The first step to becoming a more customer centric business is to truly understand what your customer experiences at each stage of their customer journey. The best way to do this is to place yourself into your customer’s shoes and experience the journey you serve to your customers.
Let’s be clear here: It’s not enough to simply think you get it. You really need to turn yourself into a customer and send yourself through the entire customer experience from when a customer first recognizes that they have a need, to how they research online and go on to choose a solution to their problem.
When you do this, you will realize that your business only touches the customer at some points in their journey. Outside of these touch-points, they have many other needs which are currently hidden to you.
Customer Centric Example: Selling to a Marketing Manager
Let’s assume that I am a marketing manager and I’ve just started my new job in a software business in New York. My job description is to develop lead-gen campaigns to serve my sales team.
On day one, I meet my boss who introduces me to the rest of the team. In the afternoon, I go to my LinkedIn account and update my profile. My smarter contacts, who have sold services to me in the past, already know that I am starting a new job and send me a private Tweet or LinkedIn message to congratulate me.
Over the next few days I start to settle into my new role, and my first priority is to review the lead acquisition strategy and action plan. One of my contacts anticipates this and sends me a checklist of what to include in my lead-gen plan. This really makes them stand out, as it was just what I needed at that moment in time.
The next day he calls to see how I am settling in. I take the call and thank him for the checklist. This value-add service stands out because it’s thoughtful, personal and really useful, too. He was careful to focus on how I’m settling into my new role and not to start pitching. We agree to have drinks next week time to catch-up properly.
Over drinks, I share that I’m not happy with the lead-gen tools suite that I have inherited in my new role and my new contact has put himself in a good position to compete for my business.
You get the idea. The point is that a more consultative and holistic approach wraps your business processes around the customer and understands their needs at each stage rather than just cold calling them in the hope that they have a need “in that moment” and would consider buying from complete stranger.
Step 2: Define Your Customer’s Buying Cycle
Having understood your customer’s buying needs, the next step to becoming a more customer centric business is to define your customer’s buying cycle so that you can optimize how you communicate with them throughout the sales process.
I would recommend that you do this in the following way:
Creating a Customer Journey Map
At this point, you’re ready to start creating the customer journey map. To make this easier, you can use a customer journey mapping tool like UXPressia, which allows you to create your first customer journey map for free.
Your customer journey map can be changed over time as you build a more and more detailed understanding of your customer’s needs.
Step 3: Use a CRM to Reflect The Buying Cycle
Once you have defined your customer buying cycle and the key stages of this, the next step to becoming a more customer centric business is to reflect this into a customer CRM tool. This will allow you to manage your relationships with clarity, consistency and real positive impact across sales, marketing, account management and customer service and support disciplines.
Or if you are a 1-person business, it will help you to perform all of these roles yourself without getting confused or failing to deliver on the promises that you make to customers.
A small business CRM system is a great way to:
A CRM system is also a great tool for managing existing customer relationships. These relationships may continue to be managed by salespeople or by account execs if you like to keep your sales team focused on new business.
Step 4: Improve Each Moment of Truth
Once you have established your customer buying cycle stages and adopted a CRM system, the next step to becoming a more customer centric business is to improve your customer’s experience at each touch point that they have with your business.
Within the overall customer experience there are moments of truth (MOTs), which can be decision making points in the sales process, but not always. For example, a MOT for a mortgage salesperson is getting the customer to sign the loan documents. However, this is not the MOT for the customer— for them, this is a pain point.
For the customer, the MOT comes when they take possession of the keys for their new home and open the front door for the first time with their family. If the salesperson appreciates this and sends congratulations and a bottle of sparkling wine is sitting on the kitchen table when they first enter their new home, then this customer is far more likely remember and appreciate the relationship. If they call within 24-hours of this, they are well placed to ask for referrals.
Moments of truth example — buying a car
Most of us have purchased a car at some point in our lives so let me use that as an example. For a car dealer, there are typically 7 moments of truth, which are as follows:
Moments of truth are not always positive; they can also be pain points from the customer’s perspective. For instance, if the after sales service is less impressive than what the customer experiences during the sales process, this can undo all of the good work that was laid down to generate the sales in the first place. This is why a successful customer centric business requires participation from everyone — not just your salespeople, but support, accounting and service staff, too.
Measuring and managing these key moments determines the reputation of your business and your ability to earn most of your future customers via word-of-mouth.
Step 5: Enabling sales with information, content & tools
Having understood your typical prospects behavior and their moments of truth puts you in an excellent position to understand their needs at each stage of their journey. It also places you in a good position to implement the final step of becoming a more customer centric business. This step involves making yourself useful to your customer at times when they might not have thought to ask for your help.
I recommend brainstorming with your team ways to touch prospects positively to add-value during their buying cycle that demonstrate your ability to:
Sales may be too busy selling to develop the content that they require, but once the needs are understood, then marketing will be able to put content and tools in place to help enable sales to earn the right to close future deals through investing in building consistently good quality relationships.
For instance, if you sell business loans, then it makes sense to provide your customers with a loan calculator that allows them to compare the cost of your loan against your key competitors. You also might want to provide them with a home finances budget template to make it easy for them to work out whether they can afford to take out the loan. Perhaps you could provide free advice on financial planning and tips on how to reduce household running costs? These kind of added-value services will help to build trust and also accelerate the sales process with customers who decide to do business with you.
Bottom line: Creating a customer-centric business
B2B customers are becoming increasingly focused on relationships and business outcomes rather than solely products and services.
As a result, arguably the biggest single competitive edge will come from delivering a more customer-centric approach that brings your whole small business team into play rather than expecting sales to work in isolation. CRM tools will also make it much easier to organize and consistently deliver the best possible service to your customers.
(By Mark Sallows)