Becoming your customers first choice supplier
The story of buying and selling and becoming customers first choice supplier is a challenging experience for both buyers and sellers. Making a purchase can be a long-drawn-out process of consideration, negotiation and doing the transaction. The customer’s experience has now become the critical part of the sales process. The customer’s experience can and should become part of your competitive advantage.
Customers experience is the product of an interaction between your organisation and a customer. This interaction includes a customer’s attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy and purchase and use of a product or service. It is measured by the individual’s experience at all points of contact against the individual’s expectations. Technology is something which can help you greatly to measure your customer’s choices.
You have progressed to an age where business is all about the customer. Digitalisation has changed the customer’s management of the buying process. You now need to assess how this will impact your customer service processes, services and products. Changing your culture and processes to transform all aspects of your customer’s buying journey is becoming an imperative.
Achieving the results you want
To achieve the results you want, you must first gain a genuine understanding of customers. What are their problems, frustrations and what do they really want and need? You are serving a customer, not a life sentence, so learn how to enjoy working with them to become the customers first choice. Spend a lot of time talking to customers face-to-face and you will be amazed what you will learn. You will also be amazed at how many businesses don’t listen to their customers.
A customer who has a positive experience will often return to your business to purchase from you again and may spend more with you. The more they come back, the more you are consolidating the customers first choice. That’s why providing a good customer experience and building relationships with your customers are so important.
You can say and do anything to your customers, but how you say it and deliver it will determine how they will react to the experience. If you are extending your reach around the world to a broader audience of potential customers and visitors you will need to apply even more time to this important task.
The customers first choice a competitive battleground
Times have changed. Buyers have always been in control of their consideration phase. Sellers have always been in control of negotiation and transaction phases because they ‘owned’ the valuable information relevant to the purchase. Today’s buyers, are no longer dependent on the salesperson’s information and have taken control of the entire sales cycle including doing the negotiation and initiating the transaction. The experiences they have will impact greatly on your future business.
Digital technology has raised the bar for everyone in business. Today, the same people who bank online, book travel on their smartphone, and shop from their digital tablet could also be potential customers for you. When they look for a product or service in your category, these people bring incredibly high consumer expectations with them and if their experience with you is not good, you won’t see them again.
No longer do you have traditional body language to help you, therefore, you need to understand digital body language. With information technology available everywhere, the buyer is able to quickly find the information and price about a pending purchase. And they do it with confidence and without any human contact.
As in the old days, a buyer still looks to do business with people they can trust. This simply means that you must be able to give the customer the confidence to trust you at every touch point. Therefore, think about the people and organisations that influence them, including community organisations, other suppliers and people who may be doing the research for them.
A customer will be looking for trust
Building trust with your customers and potential customers is key to discovering and understanding their buying motives. This requires knowing every step of the customer’s buying cycle and being able to clearly communicate to the buyer at each step, that your number one priority is to take care of them. You not only need to provide them with a good product or service at a good price but be reliable, useful and helpful as you nurture them through their buying cycle.
While customers are not always right, this is not the way to win a customers trust or their business.
Your digital presence should convey a feeling of caring and sharing and a level of confidence which will cause the customer to trust you and want to be involved with your organisation.
You will need to:
- Be transparent about how you will serve the customer.
- Demonstrate you understand their frustrations, problems, wants and needs.
- You are able to help them clarify their issues and research them.
- Show how you can provide them with the best solution, both in a physical environment and online.
- Clearly put forward your prices and logistics, transparency is also important.
Your goal is to determine you have the right product or service to actually solve the buyer’s issues. In doing this you will need to win the buyer’s trust. You must show genuine interest in the intention to serve the buyer and not just ‘sell’ them.
Once a customer has done their research
Buyers will be looking for the person or, business who can solve their issues. They will be looking for someone they can trust and a situation where the customer’s experience is worthwhile.
Are incorrect judgements about your business being made? About what your business looks like? What will it look like next year? What do you want it to look like? Judgements about you and your business are always being made. In fact, many people will think they know more about your business than you do.
Your image in business is important. You need customers and prospects to make positive judgements about your business. Right or wrong, your customers and prospects will make snap judgements about you and your business. Unless you can afford to lose customers, you can’t afford to project an unprofessional image,
Gaining the in-depth knowledge about your customers is not something that happens overnight. It comes about through insight from all customer touch points and channels across your entire organisation. It’s about knowing your customers inside and out. This is so you can create and deliver personalised experiences that will boost loyalty and advocacy towards your business while differentiating you from the fierce competition being generated in the global marketplace.
How will you know what experiences customers want?
It can be hard to know what type of customer experience your customers want from your business. Do they want follow-up phone calls after purchase? Would they like a loyalty program? Or maybe they’d like an automated online purchasing system?
Businesses have long emphasised touch points. The many critical moments when customers interact with the organisation and its offerings on their way to purchase and beyond. But the narrow focus on maximising satisfaction at those moments can create a distorted picture. Suggesting that customers have better experiences with the business than they actually are. It also diverts attention from the bigger, more important picture, the customer’s end-to-end journey.
The customer experience implies the customer’s involvement at different levels such as rational, emotional, sensorial, physical, and spiritual. Customers respond to both direct and indirect contact with an organisation. Direct contact usually occurs when the purchase or use is initiated by the customer. Indirect contact often involves online experiences, advertising, news reports, unplanned encounters with your representatives, word-of-mouth recommendations or criticisms.
Customer experience can be defined as the internal and personal responses of your customers, that might be in line with the organisation, either directly or indirectly. Whatever it is, it’s important to take the time to find out your customer’s expectations when it comes to finding out your customer’s experiences that will have them coming back for more. Always be aware of the benefits customers will receive when they do business with you.
Ways you can provide your customers with better experiences
- Following up on both the positive and negative feedback you receive.
- Be a good listener.
- Always be reliable, practical, helpful and useful.
- Demonstrate to customers that you understand their problems, frustrations wants and needs.
- Your people always greet customers with a genuine smile.
- Always keep your customers well informed about an event they may be interested in.
- Make sure you practice good customer service in all aspects of your business.
- Continuously look for ways to improve the level of customer service you deliver.
- Ensure all the technology you use is user-friendly.
- Greet customers and approach them in a way that is natural and fits your business’s environment and values.
- Thank your customers and always let them know that you appreciate them.
The more you engage with customers the clearer things become. And the easier it is to determine what you should be doing to improve both your customer service and your customer’s experiences. Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game with your competitors.
“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary”. Sam Walton
“Make a customer, not a sale”. Katherine Barchetti