Should I focus more on sales or customer experience?
We've been focusing heavily on sales. We've seen a great increase but not a lot of returning customers. I wonder if this is because we haven't been paying as much attention to the customer experience, as we have been to pushing up our numbers. In your eyes, what is more important? Or how much time should we spend on each?
If the product is one that should have repeat business then you need to develop or use a follow-up system that automatically checks with previous customers on how they like the product and it may be time to re-order. I get reminders for a number of products that I buy on line. Once these systems and procedures are developed you should come up with creative methods of asking for re-orders. My guess is this is a 70-30 breakdown of new versus repeat business.
The answer to how much time should be different for each business so for me to generalise would be worthless to you. One guide I can give you is to calculate the value of repeat business you think you could get from each customer and compare it to the typical value of a new business order. If, for example, repeat business could be say five times the value of a new order then nurturing existing customers should clearly be a priority.
It is often said that getting a new customer costs 10 times as much as maintaining existing customers - don't fall for this one as the people that come up with such figures typically do not spend enough time maintaining existing customers which makes it look like the cheap option.
The bottom line is that new customers are essential for growing a business so whatever split of effort you decide upon new business selling must be there.
Since you are able to get new customers - clearly the value proposition is working. So you have been successful in creating a compelling perception. As you have mentioned that number of returning customers are fewer - I am assuming that your product or service has a repetitive usage / consumption. If this is the case, it may be useful to dig in deeper to research customer experience at the point of delivery and their usage experience within a defined period of time. The findings may identify possible gap areas between the customers expectation and actual experience. The feedback mechanism will help to take course correction. Who in your organisation is accountable for taking care of customer experience and what is the performance metric?
Both! Without sales you can't survive and without good customer experiences you can't leverage loyalty or social media marketing. It's not one or the other... it's both.
Without question the customer is the number 1 priority. It is many times easier to sell to an existing customer, that you provide a good customer experience to, that knows and trusts you. Not only that but they tell their friends.
There are couple of variables that need answering first.
1. What is the nature of your product or service ? Does it warrant return customers ?
2. What is the competitive landscape ? Are there lots of competitors for your product or ?
3. Is your product / service an industry specific or a generic solution ?
When someone buys they are effectively becoming an ambassador for your product or service. Even if they do not return as a customer I reckon it is important that their experience of using or consuming your product is so good that they spread the word. Customer engagement is all about encouraging your existing customer to repeat buy or spread the word and grow your market. No doubt focussing on new sales and new customers is good but it is absolutely necessary to keep in touch with your existing customers to get feedback and also spread the word. Existing customers will also be able to tell you about whats out there in the market.
So yes CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT is as important as NEW BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT. Good luck and Good selling !!!!!
First, it's your customer, second it's your sales!
taking care of your customers will eventually take care of your sales by itself!
I would recommend to have a look back on your mission and vision objectives, see if you are stepping away from the road map you have drown for the business, are you?
review your growth strategy and check on your strength, weaknesses. I do believe your question is much more broader than what it seems really! that's a smart question and hits many areas!
hope that works,
Congratulations on successfully building sales so far. Although I don't know your product or service, I would be concerned about the lack of repeat customers. Increased sales will not necessarily result in a better customer experience but a great customer experience will result in increased sales and an easier and shorter sales cycle. Someone else touched on the restaurant analogy - would you return to a restaurant that had good soup but a negative customer experience?
Debroah...I believe you asking two different and unrelated questions. Sales are a result of what you do in the processes and activities of your business. Focusing more on sales is like saying we need to focus on being in China. The real question is "how are you going to get to China...what steps need to be in place to make this possible"...it's the end result, not something you focus on.
if you want to increase sales, my experience and recommendation is to go "all-in" on building an awesome customer experience. It is what is in your control...you own it and as such can control more of the outcome...which will ultimately be a stronger customer base and increased sales. You can NEVER GO WRONG when you focus in on your customers...but doing it in a way that works is where the magic lies.
You should focus on both Sales and customer experience also because both are beneficial. If you satisfy customers then only you will get good sales in return.
Deborah, excellent question, and good work getting an increase in your sales. I'm in agreement with what seems to be the current majority of respondents: Sales and Customer Experience are equally important. It's cheaper to bring back repeat business than to onboard new customers, so it's good to keep those current customers engaged and eager to return when they need your services again. A good amount of time can be saved through automation and having good solid processes in place. Do you have newsletters? Send thank you notes? A referral system in place?
Focusing sales is good but need to focus also customer experience simultaneously. customer experience will improve you to identify right customer , who have to pay you. Every customer are not paying in right time and we need to identify them, who will not pay in right time.
Your customer experience is part of your sales process in a way. I would recommend to integrate your customer experience into the the sales process.
Just like communication,sales is not complete without feedback and business does not improve unless you improve the next sale by the learning from earlier sales.
So , there is no comparison between new business development and existing customer fulfillment.
I would advise you that you are foregoing your long term sustainability over short term gain.This could be harmful for the business.Because after sometime customer experience will have a multiplier effect and even new prospective customers will be impacted.
The best strategy is to have separate windows for both objectives and address them simultaneously.
If it is not affordable make sure your existing customers are served above their expectations and you should monitor the developments on your current observation that customers are not coming back .That's a strong indicator of your long term sustainability.
You can also think of interviewing or surveying some customers about their experiences and recommendations for improvement.
Best Of Luck,
I only have two things to add to the very comprehensive and professional aswers you got already.
1) CRM is of course vital, so continue to to entice trial of your product.
2) Have you ever considered that the low repurchase rate might be a product performance issue? This is a key question for the future of your business.
More than happy to help.
All my Best,
What I am hearing and possibly suspecting with this question, is that you are obtaining customers at a rapid rate and losing them because follow through is not up to proper quality. Be careful you are not overpromising and under delivering----And my experience shows me losing an existing account hurts more in the long run than opening up new ones without establishing relationships built upon TRUST
Richard Stern- Both sales and customer retention are important., The Customer Service is an extension of the sales effort.
Customers want to know you follow up on their experience. This is how your company builds loyalty and sells more product.
Say Deborah, good for you on filling the sales pipeline. If you had an endless supply of new customers it may well stay full. Alas, the new customers are not infinite. The customer experience is a constellation of things that begin BEFORE the sale is made and must last long after it ends. As Sharad has said, both are important; it's not a matter of how much time to spend on each. It's a matter of integrating the two.
Without knowing your product/service or your offer I will try to give you an answer from experience in general starting with the old saying, "A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush."
It is difficult and costly to find new business. Sure it takes time and money to keep old business but no where near as much as new. From this perspective I will share a personal experience that happened to me about 10 years ago. I started selling health insurance for the first time so I had a rough go the first couple of month making only about $800 per month but then found my groove and in our branch of about 37 agents I often found myself in the top 5 but never the highest selling agent in the branch. At the end of the year my branch manager called me into his office telling me I was ranked in the top 20 agents, which didn't sound so great until he said it wasn't for our branch but the top 20 agents in the company of over 5000 agents. When I asked how that was possible he said it was because my business stayed on the books. If I stopped selling my residual business would continue to pay my bills after only one year of work. Most other agents couldn't because their business died off soon and they had to continually push for new business, if nothing else, to pay for their charge backs.
So, what good is it to be on fire selling a ton but then have to maintain that fire because your business continues to die off? Nobody can sustain fire selling for long because business, trends and selling environments change and if you don't have sustainable life in your existing customer base, you will not be able to ride out the down turn when it hits and you need to change your approach to continue selling.
That said, in answer to your question, my customers always come first and after I know they are taken care of, then I start selling again.
A common misconception is that Sales and the Customer Experience (CX) are separate entities. ANY interaction with your customer is part of the end-to-end CX, and that interaction is going to influence/drive your initial sales AND post-sales and retention.
A few questions to ask yourself…
• One time sales are fine, but are you attracting the right customers for long-term engagement? What’s your objective -- one-time sales or long-term customers – or both? Maybe your marketing/sales strategy needs a tweak.
• Is your product a good one? Is it meeting the customer expectation? No after sale experience will save a mediocre or bad product.
• What do you have in place for post-sale support? What’s required based on your product? (Ask current and former customers what they expect(ed).) Don’t think of Customer Service as a “cost center,” recognize it as the revenue and loyalty generator that it will be if you do it right.
Bottom-line: Pay attention to every step in the Customer Experience chain and you’ll have customers (and a business) for life.