Dave Seaton is a customer experience consultant, helping you create experiences your customers can’t wait to tell Mom about over Sunday brunch (or FaceTime).
Even in the stodgy world of B2B, where we all pretend to be emotionless corporate robots, your customers are still beautiful, proud, slightly-neurotic humans who will shake out the corporate piggy banks for more Mom-worthy experiences.
Dave’s proudest moments on a project involved flying 4,768 miles, driving hundreds more, and surviving a high-speed Uber ride down Bourbon Street to collect “Voice of the Customer” feedback for a B2B SaaS company. Using that insight, he transformed the customer support experience and made the company $991k in annual recurring revenue.
He won the 2020 North American Customer Centricity Award for that project, a chunky black mini-monolith he still uses as a bookend to hold up his dog-eared copy of Matt Dixon’s Effortless Experience.
Need a business case for a customer-centric culture? “Pause for a moment and imagine your business with no customers.” But most companies don’t act that way. Ever seen customer needs to take a back seat to product roadmap commitments, process compliance, or quarterly financial targets? This negligence is the product of a thousand small decisions made throughout the organization. It’s a culture problem.
Customer expectations were already high back then, but wow, the pandemic sure changed that. It drove executives crazy! What’s going on? What are customers doing? Why are they hoarding toilet paper? What are their needs and expectations? There was this huge realization that customers drive the business – and suddenly executives needed more insights to understand them and the problems they are trying to solve. This was a good thing. But will it continue?
In the B2B relationship, a customer is not an organization, a hospital, an account, a logo, or a company. None of those things have feelings or make decisions. Rather, the customer is each individual person at that company – the human beings making the emotional decisions about your brand.
Buyers: The buyer has the authority to make the purchase decision. This person has the budget and the business need for your product or service, although they may never use it personally.
Influencers: An influencer has input into the purchasing decision but is not the ultimate decision-maker. Influencers may be functional leaders who manage users or cross-functional partners from organizations like Finance and Information Technology.
Users: A user is a person who actually uses the product or service the organization has purchased.
Among these tiers, information flows bi-directionally. As buyers, influencers, and users interact with your company, they share their experiences with each other.
How Customer Service and Support (CSS) organizations must differentiate on the customer experience to maintain customer loyalty and improve retention. As a CSS leader with limited resources, you need to make strategic tradeoffs in service design. By researching the customer’s perception of service value, you can understand which service elements to invest in – and which to scale back.
Most CSS organizations have some form of a Voice of the Customer (VOC) program in place – usually transactional surveys. At the conclusion of a service interaction, the customer receives a survey so the company can measure customer satisfaction (CSAT) with the transaction.
Leaders need to manage the mood of their organizations. The most gifted leaders accomplish that by using a blend of psychological abilities known as emotional intelligence. They’re self-aware and empathetic. They can read and regulate their own emotions while intuitively grasping how others feel and gauging their organization’s emotional state. Wisely and compassionately deployed, emotional intelligence spurs leaders, their people, and their organizations to superior performance; naively or maliciously applied, it can paralyze leaders or allow them to manipulate followers for personal gain.
Over millennia, curiosity has been credited as the driving force behind human progress and advances in science, language, and industry. It is a vital quality that helps us learn, grow, and discover. Curiosity is affiliated with an inquisitive way of thinking that includes investigation, experimentation, and knowledge. Our personal development is also connected to curiosity, and it facilitates a more profound relationship with ourselves, others, and our interaction with the world.
- Dave Seaton
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