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Steve Niesman | October 24, 2022 | 4 minutes

How to Turn Customer Experience into a Tailwind for Revenue Growth

This article by Steve Niesman was first published on Forbes.com and explores how to turn customer experience into a tailwind for revenue growth.

customer experience as a tailwind for revenue growth

Steve Niesman is a member of the Forbes Business Council. This article was first published on Forbes.com on May 4, 2022. Here is a link to the original article.

In the first installment of this series, I introduced a framework for digital transformation and growing your business, called “PRICE,” and discussed the “P”: people. As I described previously, the five focus areas for this framework are:

People: Create truly dynamic, engaging and employee-centered experiences to attract and retain talent (hire to retire). This includes access to 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).

Cost: Reduce business waste, optimize inputs, improve enterprise planning and automate processes.

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

Moving on to revenue, you can see similar themes with technology and people coming together to achieve sustainable growth. In simplistic terms, the most common methods for increasing revenue include things such as expanding products or services, creating new channels to serve customers or acquiring a new capability through mergers and acquisitions. But implementing any of those things involves processes that are often complex and require industry-specific considerations.

Plus, there comes a point when companies cannot compete on price, quality or function because differentiation gets harder the longer a given 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 customer experience can realize a 20 percent improvement in customer satisfaction, a 15 percent increase in sales conversion, a 30 percent lower cost-to-serve, and a 30 percent increase in employee engagement.”

Let’s see how that translates into more revenue.

Strengthening Your Core

Many companies find themselves spending a lot of time answering basic questions such as, “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 commerce and sales solutions. Think about any information customers would prefer to get online rather than talk to someone on the phone, and now you have one of the main reasons I’ve seen businesses tend to invest in a commerce platform.

If you do the same in your business, remember that the goal isn’t to replace people; it’s to give them a more meaningful focus in their job while empowering customers at the same time. This becomes especially important as finding and retaining talent remains a challenge and you work to increase customer loyalty.

From a sales standpoint, there are also opportunities for guided selling, whether it’s through a commerce portal or data provided to your sales team to prompt discussions of specific offerings to create a more informed and personalized customer experience. Many companies have a large enough list of products and services that it becomes hard for salespeople to learn every nuance of every offering. However, technology can be used to help them deliver the right message.

Expanding Into New or Adjacent Channels

When it comes to expansion, direct-to-consumer commerce can be lucrative for some business-to-business companies. For example, manufacturers or consumer packaged goods companies that have traditionally gone through distributors are now looking at creating direct relationships with the consumers of their products. With this, they have a few goals in mind.

They are working to create a new revenue stream, capture the data on who uses their products and how, as well as increase brand loyalty. Not only does that open a new channel for serving customers, but it can also feed back into core activities 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 provides opportunities for digital marketing. The overall result is a larger, more cohesive ecosystem.

On the other hand, companies that sell something more expensive and complex are not suited to a commerce platform. In this instance, it’s more about equipping your sales force with the right tools. It’s also about digital marketing. According to Gartner Research, your sales reps are only getting around “5% of a customer’s time during their B2B buying journey.” That statistic isn’t going to get any better, and it means that guided selling and digital marketing will continue to drive more of your success.

Regardless of which business you’re in, sales and marketing need to work together as they continue to collect customer insights or develop faster and better responses to shifting market dynamics.

Investing In the Right Technology

However, there are two angles you should consider when looking at technology investments: Does it increase efficiency, and does it facilitate growth? Any investments should balance your goals with serving customers, retaining talent and pushing your revenue goals forward.

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

  • What is your specific knowledge and experience working with others in my industry?
  • Do you provide any value-added services that might benefit my company?
  • How flexible is your engagement model? Can we scale implementation plans up or down as needed?
  • Can the solution be integrated into the rest of our technology ecosystem so that information and resources can be shared across the business?

Gaining Competitive Advantage

While people will always drive your ultimate success, you can leverage technology to help you find customers, extend your business model and compete with major industry players. When you ask yourself whether you’re growing revenue at or above the average for your industry, your answer should bring clarity. If yes, it’s important to know why. If not, it’s important to ask why you’re being left 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 installment, we’ll look at innovation.

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