Although IT service providers are smart, savvy and able to provide advanced solutions, they have not typically been known for delivering an exceptional customer experience. Providers could often get by selling long-term contracts without offering transparent info on pricing and competitive options, or even serving up support once the contact was signed and filed. All that has changed.
Today’s buyers are much more sophisticated, and keeping them around means providing the ultimate customer experience across the board. Here’s what you can do to help ensure a brilliant future for your company and customers alike.
Outline the Buying Journey
Keeping the buying journey simple can help keep you keenly focused on what the prospect needs at each phase. A straightforward outline of the buying journey breaks it down into three stages:
- Awareness – prospects recognize their need for a cloud solution provider (CSP)
- Consideration – prospects determine what they need and head online to research options
- Decision – prospects choose a lucky CSP that’s going to get their company’s business
While the CSP that snags the deal may indeed be lucky, it typically takes much more than luck to ensure your company is the chosen one. It takes delivering an engaging and delightful customer experience at every stage of the buying journey, and beyond.
Deliver Delight Across the Buying Journey
Delivering the optimum customer experience starts by tackling each stage of the buying journey, ensuring prospects get what they need. Keep in mind that buyers are no longer only CIO and IT execs. The pool has expanded to include executives with nontechnical backgrounds looking for transparent information about experience, pricing and value.
Since as much as two-thirds of the buying journey is complete before a prospect even connects with one of your reps, the big emphasis throughout much of the buying journey is going to be on education.
Each stage provides an opportunity to deliver a compelling customer experience by offering valuable content that hits on their need for a CSP solution and your ability to provide it.
- Awareness Stage: Downloads and online content that reinforce the need for a CSP. Options can include white papers, tip sheets, guides, e-books, checklists, videos and combination kits that serve up all of the above.
- Consideration Stage: Downloads and online content that explain why your CSP stands out from all the rest, along with exacting details on what you offer. Here the lineup can include webinars, case studies, and product spec sheets.
- Decision Stage: Content and hands-on experience can help sway the decision in your direction. Choices are free demos and trails, complimentary consultations, estimates or quotes, and special pricing deals if available.
Deliver Delight Across the Board
Once a prospect becomes a customer, the same attention and care needs to be provided to transform customers into valuable promoters rather than disgruntled detractors. This is where IT providers have historically been known to drop the ball.
A survey conducted by Bain and Research Now found a tremendous gap between the perceptions of end-users and decision-makers, with end-users giving IT service providers a negative Net Promoter Score (NPS) in six of eight categories. Decision-makers, on the other hand, gave a positive NPS for all but one category.
What went wrong? Several things, which Bain said included:
- Vendors over-promising to win sales, then under-delivering with the final product or service
- Poor customer support for hardware
- Arduous installations, clunky interfaces and functionality, and poor integration for software
- Vendors selling a vision of future potential rather than the reality of the daily experience
Paying attention to the issues noted above is an ideal place to start enhancing your overall customer experience. This would involve:
- Under-promising and over-delivering, or going that extra mile that consistently exceeds customer expectations
- Exceptional customer support
- Seamless installations, advanced interfaces and functionality, and streamlined integration
- Selling the benefits of the daily experience
Additional tactics that can help boost your customer experience include:
- Knowing your customers: Discover and address what matters most to your clients, from their biggest pain points to their greatest sources of satisfaction.
- Altering the company mindset: Rework what’s needed within your business to put the customer front and center in your company culture and systems.
- Considering a customer experience system: Establish a system that allows customers to provide feedback at every major touch point. Such a system lets you engage customers, promptly tend to their issues, and gather insights your company can use for continuous improvement.
Top It off With the Grand Finale
Satisfying your customers enough to turn them into promoters puts the icing on the proverbial cake. Not only are promoters up to three times more likely than detractors to renew their contracts with you, but they’re also about two times as likely to consider using other products you sell.
And that’s not all. Companies with a strong base of satisfied advocates are also more inclined to become market leaders. That means continuing to deliver a phenomenal customer experience, even after the sales, can bring in more renewals, new sales, and domination of the world — or at least the CSP market.