The experience a sales organisation provides its customers with goes a long way towards achieving success, which is why companies invest in things like customer service coaching and try to enhance their team’s customer service skills. However, customer experience is the responsibility of everyone, not just the customer service department.
In the 2017 CSO Insights World-Class Sales Practices Report, the research division of Miller Heiman Group established 12 best-practices for sales organisations, and one of these was providing consistently positive interactions with customers, regardless of which channel they choose to use.
Here, we take a closer look at the need for a cross channel strategy and provide information about how sales organisations can achieve success in delivering a positive experience for customers.
Understanding Different Channels
Today’s sales environment is more complicated than in the past, because customers tend to have a choice of the channel they use. The biggest challenge this presents businesses in terms of delivering a high-quality customer experience is achieving consistency between channels, which is why a cross channel strategy is required.
In some organisations, different channels are more obviously defined than in others. For example, in B2C companies, there is a clear distinction between in-store sales and online sales, and those organisations need to try to deliver a consistent, positive experience across both, rather than prioritising one and neglecting the other.
However, even in B2B organisations, there are usually multiple different channels and the onus is on the business to deliver consistently and have positive interactions across all of them.
“Most organizations have many sales channels,” says Seleste Lunsford. “Inside sales, territory sales, key account sales, alliance partners, distribution partners, service personnel with responsibility for upselling, customer success positions, etc. It’s likely that customers will engage with your sales organization in more than one way.”
Achieving Cross-Channel Alignment
Although interactions will naturally be different across the different channels, it is important that basic strategies and messages are aligned. The key to delivering a positive experience is consistency and that should mean outcomes are extremely similar, regardless of the channel that is being used.
It should not, for example, be possible for one customer to go through one channel, another to go through another channel, and the two receive very different outcomes in terms of price, value and so forth.
The best starting point is to map the customer journey along all of the available channels and identify the various touchpoints and key decisions. Your customer service coaching should also prioritise teaching reps to make use of CRM software and keep track of interactions across channels, so that seamless communication is possible.
All channels must also be aligned with the marketing department. This helps to ensure that the voice of the company and the messages being put out are consistent, regardless of whether it is a response to a customer on social media, an article posted as part of a social selling strategy, or a sales conversation over the phone. The reason alignment should centre around marketing is because they produce on-brand content and make key communications decisions.
Measuring the Customer Experience
Of course, the only way a sales organisation can really assess the quality of its customer experience and the customer service skills of its staff is by measuring. Realistically, to do this, you need to speak to the only people that can truly tell you what your customer experience is like – the customers themselves.
It is essential that businesses not only ask customers for feedback, but they use the data gathered to identify which areas need improvement and, conversely, which channels or interactions are the most effective.
This makes alignment easier, because it gives companies a clear indicator of what works and what does not. If a channel is found to be delivering a poor experience, changes can be made to align it with a high performing channel. Unfortunately, most companies are ineffective at this, partly because they are distracted by chasing new customers.
In fact, research from CSO Insights shows that just 31.2 percent of sales organisations agree or strongly agree that they are effective at surfacing specific reasons why customers stop doing business with them. Among world-class organisations, this figure is 70 percent, highlighting its importance in achieving success.
Request feedback constantly, do not be afraid to ask why customers have left and act upon what they say.
The modern sales environment is an omni-channel environment and that does not just apply in B2C sales organisations. Almost all sales-based businesses now have multiple channels and this makes it imperative that a level of consistency is achieved when it comes to interacting with customers and delivering a positive experience.
In terms of achieving this, it is important that various channels are strategically aligned, based on the customer journey, and that alignment is also achieved with marketing. The customer experience should be measured and the data gathered should be used to keep the performance of channels in line with one another as well.