How to turn customer experience into a tailwind for revenue growth

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Steve Niesman is the President and CEO of North America for: NTT DATA business solutionsdirecting operations for the midsize SAP provider.

In the first installment of this series, I introduced a framework for digital transformation and growth of your business called ‘PRICE’ and discussed the ‘P’: people. As I described earlier, the five focus areas for this framework are:

• “People: Create truly dynamic, engaging and employee-centric experiences to attract and retain talent (hiring to retire). This includes accessing opportunities and leading with empathy.

• Revenue: Drive revenue, profit and volume. Expand sales channels and improve customer engagement.

• Innovation: create business value with new technologies (RPA, machine learning, AI, advanced analytics).

• Costs: Reduce business waste, optimize inputs, improve business planning and automate processes.

• Experience. Personalize and simplify the user experience for employees and customers, on any device.”

Moving on to revenue, you see similar themes where technology and people come together to achieve sustainable growth. In simplistic terms, the most common methods of increasing revenue are things like expanding products or services, creating new channels to serve customers, or acquiring new opportunities through mergers and acquisitions. But implementing all of those things involves processes that are often complex and require industry-specific considerations.

In addition, there comes a point where companies cannot compete on price, quality or function, as differentiation becomes more difficult the longer a particular product or service is available. That’s why customer experience has become such a focus. According to McKinsey & Company“Companies that effectively organize and manage the customer experience can achieve a 20 percent improvement in customer satisfaction, 15 percent higher sales conversion, 30 percent lower service costs, and 30 percent higher employee engagement.”

Let’s see how that translates into increased revenue.

Strengthen your core

Many companies spend a lot of time answering basic questions like, “Where’s my stuff?” “Do you have this in stock?” or, “What’s my price for this?” However, you can leverage resources that allow you to talk to customers who are looking at bigger ticket items or who are really struggling. My company and others like us help people do this every day through our commercial and sales solutions. Think of all the information that customers would rather have online than talk to someone on the phone, and now you have one of the main reasons why I companies tend to invest in a trading platform.

If you do the same in your business, remember that the goal is not to replace people; it is to give them a more meaningful focus in their work while empowering customers at the same time. This becomes especially important because finding and retaining talent remains a challenge and you work on increasing customer loyalty.

From a sales standpoint, there are also opportunities for guided sales, whether through a commerce portal or data provided to your sales team to spark discussions about specific offers to create a more informed and personalized customer experience. Many companies have a large enough list of products and services that it becomes difficult for sellers to learn every nuance of each offering. However, technology can be used to help them get the right message across.

Expand to new or adjacent channels

When it comes to expansion, direct-to-consumer trading can be lucrative for some business-to-business companies. Consumer packaged goods manufacturers or companies that have traditionally gone through distributors are now looking to create direct relationships with the consumers of their products. They have a number of goals in mind.

They work to create a new revenue stream, capture data about who uses their products and how, and increase brand loyalty. Not only does that open up a new channel for serving customers, but it can feed back to core businesses as these companies are able to cross-sell and upsell customers by sharing more of their products during each interaction. That in turn drives more data into their customer data platform and opens up opportunities for digital marketing. The overall result is a larger, more cohesive ecosystem.

On the other hand, companies selling slightly more expensive and complex are not suitable for a trading platform. In this case, it’s more about equipping your sales force with the right tools. It’s also about digital marketing. According to Gartner research, your salespeople only get about “5% of a customer’s time during their B2B buying journey.” That metric isn’t going to get any better, and it means guided sales and digital marketing will continue to drive more of your success.

No matter what business you’re in, sales and marketing must work together as they continue to collect customer insights or develop faster and better responses to changing market dynamics.

Investing in the right technology

However, there are two angles to consider when investing in technology: does it increase efficiency and promote growth? Any investment should balance your goals with serving customers, retaining talent, and pushing your revenue goals.

Once you’ve identified your specific needs, here are some questions you should ask your technology partner:

• What is your specific knowledge and experience of working with others in my industry?

• Do you provide value-added services that can benefit my business?

• How flexible is your engagement model? Can we scale up or down implementation plans as needed?

• Can the solution be integrated into the rest of our technology ecosystem, so that information and resources can be shared across the company?

Gain a competitive advantage

While people will always be your ultimate success, you can use technology to help you find customers, expand your business model, and compete with major industry players. If you’re wondering if your sales are at or above average for your industry, your answer should bring clarity. If so, it’s important to know why. If not, it’s important to ask why you’re lagging behind. How your customers find you and experience the sales cycle can become a competitive advantage rather than a headwind when it comes to growing revenue.

In the next episode we look at innovation.


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