New Year’s Resolution: Put Customer Context First
by Betsy Burton
I have recently had several interactions with sales, marketing, and executive representatives from technology and service providers (TSPs), and I was struck by how much they were focused on their products and services rather than the context of the questions that I was asking them.
It is very understandable that these representatives might be interested in promoting and talking about their technology and services. However, today more than ever, your customers expect you to understand their context first and foremost, and then to explain how your products and services can help them run and grow their business.
In this blog, we explore how certain customer expectations have changed in this new year, and what these changes means for your customer engagement strategy.
It’s About Customer Context First
We have written extensively over the past year about a shift that we’re seeing in customer engagement. This shift is from customer experience management to context-driven customer engagement.
- Customer experience management is focused on how your organization is managing different customer touchpoints so that your customers experience a positive and consistent experience when engaging with your organization. While this is a positive step, it is still very much an inside-out perspective on your customers.
- Context-driven customer engagement is focused on understanding the context of your customers first and foremost in order to present your products and services in a way that meets their context.
There are several emerging technologies that can help organizations understand their customers’ context, including advanced analytics on large data sets, voice and video analytics, chatbots, AI, content analytics, and collaboration platforms. However, there remains great opportunity in direct human interaction if TSPs evolve their sales and marketing teams to this new reality.
Not About Your Products/Services
In the past, sales teams were armed with lots of information about their products and services and sent out to the market to find, develop, close, and maintain customer engagement.
Customers today are much more used to a high degree of personalization in their consumer experience, as well as a high degree of customization of work-based solutions. They expect TSPs to bring them solutions that meet their current needs or help evolve and transform their business. This means your sales and marketing teams need to fully understand your customer context (personal, professional, marketplace, regional, cultural, economic, etc.) (See: Your Customer Experience Must Reflect Your Brand)
Start by Really Listening
Sales and marketing professionals must start by listening to your customer first and foremost. Not listening and thinking of something else or the next question/response, but really listening.
What is their immediate need or issue? How does this need fit into their longer-term strategy? What is their future-state vision? What are the business and technology trends they are most focused on? What are some of their internal and external roadblocks and opportunities? And equally important, do your products and services really help address their issues and opportunities?
Silence is Golden
Research shows that to process new information, resting and engaging in low stress activities can improve a human’s ability to retain and apply learned information. And yet, we often find TSPs delivering overwhelming information to customers about their products without allowing them time to process.
Next time you find yourself in a customer engagement, try allowing for a bit of silence. Not to the degree that it is uncomfortable, but to the point that it allows the customer to process the information you just gave them. This time also invites them to come up with questions, issues, and opportunities that might otherwise be missed.
I have said many times that technology exists to support, enhance, and grow our customers business. It is not about technology or IT; it is about technology-enabled business.
When it comes to customer engagement in your organization, make your New Year’s resolution to really listen to your customers. Leverage technology to help your sales and marketing team understand their customers context. And, train and evolve your sales and marketing teams to learn how to do so as well.