Kevin Ackhurst is the APAC Head of Sales/Sales Director at HubSpot. In this piece, he explains why marketers are now battling it out with their competitors when it comes to CX.
Customer experience (CX) is the pulse of every business. For marketing and sales, where building customer rapport and trust is at the forefront of a successful interaction, it’s been the battleground where brands win or lose. CX focuses on more than just the end sale—it’s about everything the customer feels and thinks during the entire process. And in a highly competitive marketplace, it doesn’t matter how great your product is; if your customers are confused or frustrated at any stage of the process, it’s game over.
Customers want experiences that are simple and seamless, and 2020 has truly put a spotlight on the importance of both the selling process and CX. When we asked sales decision makers what they are ranking in terms of priority, revenue generation came in at the top spot, with nearly 40 per cent ranking this as their number one priority. Trailing in second place was measuring and improving CX at just 15 per cent — closely followed by admin at 14 per cent, which is scary in itself. Despite CX being ranked second, a fair way behind revenue generation, nearly a quarter of Aussie consumers reported having negative sales experiences due to factors such as lengthy sales processes and delays in communication.
With a whopping 80 per cent of companies who prioritise CX reporting an increase in revenue, this begs the question, are businesses being short sighted by deprioritising a key differentiator?
The customer is in control
Three in four Australian sales decision makers agree that customer expectations are higher now than they have been before. Pair that with the fact that 98 per cent of sales professionals believe the sales process is important to CX — the prioritisation disconnect is even clearer.
Amplified by the pandemic, consumers are craving a stronger sense of connection to the companies they’re interacting with and see a new need for brands to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Our research showed that today’s consumers are looking for a personalised sales process, a dedicated sales representative, and convenient, responsive communication options.
Accordingly, data collected from more than 70,000 HubSpot customers revealed that since March, online chat has been booming at an increase of 132 per cent. Thanks to chat tools, businesses can be more immediate with their customer engagement across the entire flywheel to attract, engage and delight customers.
Businesses are reaching their customers where it’s most convenient to them. Customers want hyper-personalised information, delivered via channels that they prefer, while receiving answers in real-time. Downplaying the importance of listening to customer feedback and pivoting CX strategies in a corresponding manner is no longer an option for businesses, as the voice of the customer continues to grow every day.
The customer-business relationship has never been more interactive and collaborative as it is right now, and businesses must get on board or miss out to competitors.
CX drives loyalty
The expression “it’s not what you sell, it’s how you sell” has never reigned more true. Our research has evidenced this, with 83 per cent of consumers agreeing that the CX impacts their likelihood to purchase with a particular brand. Add to this that customers will spend nearly 20 per cent more if the experience is good, the competitive advantage is striking. The best way for businesses to do business is by solidifying their existing customer relationships through a delightful experience.
A little effort goes a long way as data confirms that a 5 per cent increase in customer retention can create at least a 25 per cent increase in profit. Additionally, companies are more likely to be successful in selling to existing customers, noting a sales success rate of up to 70 per cent compared to just 20 per cent for new customers. Brands who invest in their CX online notice increases in word of mouth referrals, improved brand loyalty and brand ambassadors who promote their business, as well as free promotion on social media. This simple strategy can convert consumers into lifetime customers.
Ignoring how customers can help you grow is perilous in today’s world. It’s clear that any business leaders who prioritise revenue above all else have lost sight of the value and power of a delighted customer.
Back to basics
The secret weapon to sales has, and always will be, the customer experience. Creating an experience that really impresses purchasers will ensure that they continue to do business with you in the future, as well as driving loyalty and retention. The sales professionals that are successful today and into the future are skilled, create personalised experiences and are available for questions, with quick response times and follow ups.
The bottom line is that businesses must invest in the experience they’re providing customers to succeed.