This is the first installment of the Customer Success blog series by Avanti Markets President John Reilly. He will be providing tips, insight and more as we gear up for the 2018 Operators Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky from October 3-5, 2018.
In today’s world, customers are no longer limited to shopping locally when it comes to the purchasing decision. With modern technology - we can shop anywhere in the world, at any time and choose the best deal all from our cell phones or laptops. Despite the advances that technology has made, one area should always remain at the top of any business’ priority list for growth: that area is customer success.
Customer Success is a responsibility area within any company to manage the relationship between the vendor and customers. The philosophy and objective are to push value through the channel all the way to the consumer. Each touchpoint adds value not simply cost. If you are the customer, this will help your business or your whatever initiative you are pursuing prosper, if you are the seller this will engender you to your customers for longer periods and create value for your business as well.
Innovation, Customer Service, Caring and acting on that, are the tools and mentality required for one company to add value to their customer's endeavors. As the customer, look for partners that “put their money where their mouth is” when offering value. I have an example: I recently purchased a new bicycle. I did some online research, talked to some knowledgeable friends and began my buyer’s journey.
During my buyer’s journey, I experienced three different versions of this concept and it did influence my decision.
- The first shop I visited was a large bike retailer with a huge selection that was at first, overwhelming. There was a sales associate, who had some knowledge about bikes and who encouraged me to just jump in and start test riding bikes. After testing several bikes, I had questions and went looking for my “Sales Associate”. Being the large store that it was, it was full of shoppers and getting his attention was turning into a challenge. He was busy with other customers. When he did have time for me, his answers to my questions were vague or “sales-y". And I moved on.
- The next shop I visited was a specialty boutique shop that made bikes for professionals. The sales associate was very knowledgeable and answered every question with great detail. However, he never asked what type of bike I wanted, why I wanted to purchase the bike, what I was going to do with the bike, and what my bike riding skill level was. Imagine my surprise when the first bike he brought out carried a $10,000 price tag. So, we worked our way down from that price range and feature set to something more fitting my needs. During this process though, something interesting happened, his interest level in me dropped right along with the price and accessories. He really wasn’t interested in me or in creating a lifetime customer of me. And I move on.
- The last shop I visited was an everyday bike shop with a personable and knowledgeable sales associate who greeted me at the door. Our conversation ranged from my cycling background, my old 20-year old bike that survived a 50-foot cliff drop and most importantly why I wanted a new bike and what were my plans for it. I told the associate that I was going on a 200-mile bike ride with my children and didn’t know if I would be needing a bike after that. With this information, we laid out my goals, price range, long-term plans and what I needed to be successful. We found the perfect bike and he tossed in a free pair of socks and a free tune-up before and after my long ride.
After visiting all three shops, and comparing my experience, I chose the third shop NOT because of price (although that played some role) or because of features or selection; I went with the third shop because of his authentic interest in my being successful in my adventure. His approach had two very positive outcomes. Beyond the bike I purchased from him, I purchased many of my accessories from him as well and he made a LIFETIME CUSTOMER of me. I now drop by this bike shop for casual conversation, tips, and suggestions to improve my ongoing experience. They are interested and acting on that interest to make me be a better bike rider, and not in just selling me a bike. I got the bike I needed and an advocate (sales associate) who made it his business to help me succeed. I valued the effort, extra mile, expertise and desire to see me succeed more than anything.
We are all customers and we are all sellers and we are all in pursuit of creating value. As a customer, we should view our partners as an extension of our business, as partners that create value for us, have an interest in our goals and the motivation to act on that interest. If we can find partners for the long haul, we will ultimately be more successful in achieving our own goals.
Ask yourself, what do I expect from my partners? What do they expect to give and how good are they at it? How do I value them when making my buyer’s decision? Customer success doesn’t happen overnight but it’s conversations and questions like this that get us closer to our goal customer lifetime value.
For more expert insight --- Stay tuned for the next blog and make sure you register for the 2018 Annual Operators Meeting in Louisville, KY from October 3-5!