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Namaste, Customer Engagement

June 14, 2017 | By Melissa Archambault

  • Customer engagement, like yoga, must use a continually evolving approach
  • If you invest in your customers, they will become your new sales force
  • As buyers become customers, their personas change, as do their needs

I recently started practicing yoga to help in my recovery from back surgery. What I love about yoga is that there are foundational poses that meet you where you are on your physical and mental  journey. Yoga isn't about forcing yourself into uncomfortable positions, but removing the ego from the equation and becoming grounded, and through continued practice, seeking improvement. Customer engagement should be approached the same way. B-to-b organizations must accept where they are in their journey and seek to continually improve the customer engagement journey for their clients. It's about cultivating mutual respect between the client and the company.

In traditional b-to-b environments, organizations spend a lot of energy, time and money trying to fill the purchase funnel with awareness and education activities that hopefully result in a signed contract. But what happens after the deal is done? Most b-to-b organizations only reach out to their new customers when it's time to have an invoice paid, and customers may only reach out when they have support issues. This lack of communication isn't helping to foster relationships or deepen the customer's utilization of the product or services they have purchased. So when organizations want to retain and grow customers and even look for customer advocates to speak on their behalf, and their existing customers don't take action, it shouldn't be a surprise. 

Most b-to-b organizations need to do a better job of consistently communicating with clients after the deal is done. It's during the ownership stage of the relationship that the brand promises made during the purchase process need to be fulfilled. Eighty percent of b-to-b buying decisions are based on direct or indirect customer experience, according to the 2016 SiriusDecisions Buyers Study. This is called peer-to-peer selling, and the reality is that your customers are becoming your new sales force. It's important to think about the customer journey from the perspective of both the organization and the customer. Organizations need to think strategically about how the post-sale journey will help to retain, grow and nurture customers into advocates. Equally as important, organizations need to think about what their customer will be asked to do as they move along the post-sale journey. What's in it for the customer to remain, grow and become an advocate?

The company's responsibilities across that post-sale engagement period are to guide customers through the lifecycle stages and ensure that:

  • Customers are reassured about having made the right investment
  • Customers trust in the promises made early in the buyer's cycle
  • Customers feel that if something does go wrong, the issues will be resolved

At the end of the day, regardless of industry and business size, you are still dealing with people. Think about the key drivers behind each post-sale stage and how to engage with customers at the individual level. It’s the “namaste approach” to customer engagement, or, mutual respect for the needs of the company and customer.

Organizations often spend a lot of time on buyer personas, but once a prospect becomes a customer, it’s critical to ensure that post-sale roles are documented. Personas often change and evolve after the purchase. For example, an end user who may not have been engaged at all during the buying cycle may get involved during product implementation and delivery. This individual may be exposed to the product, service and even the company for the first time. So, it's critical to understand how to engage with different customer personas and understand their driving questions in each post-sale stage. For example, end users want to know:

  • How your solution or service can help them do their jobs more efficiently
  • How to get support
  • Innovative ways to utilize the products or services purchased
  • How to engage with other users via communities

This approach creates a win for the company and the customers they serve.

At the end of each yoga session, I take what is called a corpse pose. It sounds morbid, but it’s not. It’s a time to reflect on letting go of the old way of thinking and embracing new thoughts. While I won’t ask any of you to start yoga, I would encourage your organization and yourself to approach the customer engagement journey in a mutually respectful way that honors the company and the customer. Namaste! 

Melissa Archambault

Melissa is a customer experience advocate with more than 20 years of experience working in global organizations, with an emphasis on the software and telecommunications sectors. She is a thought leader and research analyst for SiriusDecisions’ Customer Engagement Strategies research and advisory service. Follow her on Twitter @Archambault_SD.

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