I’m often asked to help a business grow qualified business leads because growth is stagnant or profitability is down. It’s a common enough request for professionals in my industry, I guess.
I’ve come to learn another fact that is quite common among those who make this request: Stagnant sales growth and profitability among those complaining about the lack of qualified business leads are often experiencing a high churn among existing customers, or poor customer value development from that existing base.
Driving any leads – qualified or not – is merely a short-term strategy if you’re not retaining and growing existing customers.
Yes, it’s the age-old “chicken and egg” argument; what comes first, new clients or developing existing clients?
We prefer a longer-term focus when developing sales strategies for clients, and so we tend to want to fix the “back end” before attending to the front.
Fixing the back end means identifying and improving the customer experience, ensuring that new customers are satisfied, that satisfied customers are loyal, and that loyal customers voluntarily and actively advocate for the business.
Understanding these factors leads to the focus of today’s post: Steps to conducting a customer experience audit.
Most can whiteboard a list of pros and cons when it comes to their clients’ customer experiences; however, few can list factual factors that drive customer value up or down.
Most make assumptions based on feedback gleaned from a social media post, customer review, or comments from the sales team.
Our experience has proven that a customer experience audit reveals truths that often shock management.
But how do you conduct such audits?
Executing it is more involved than can be outlined in a blog post; however, below I’ve highlighted the fundamental steps our team takes when our Customer Insight Analysis is engaged.
1. Formerly Document The Customer Lifecycle
No customer experience audit is worth its weight in the paper it’s printed on without first knowing the stages of your business’s customer lifecycle.
And while most executives will quickly respond “yes” when asked if they know it, again, our experience shows that their perceptions are often incorrect.
While there are common sets of lifecycle stages, which can be loosely broken down into two groups: Pre-Sale ( Awareness – Nurturing -Decision); and Post-Sale (Satisfaction – Loyalty – Advocacy), each business will experience different stages based on their unique product, geography, competition, etc.
2. Identify Customer Touch Points Across the Lifecycle
Further to the stages that a customer passes through from initial brand awareness to becoming a customer advocate, there are hundreds of potential customer brand-customer touchpoints that influence how (if) the customer moves from one stage to the next.
The next steps require a very detailed documentation of all the touchpoints your business has with clients. This includes social media, email, direct mail, trade shows, trial offers or products, etc. at the start of the customer experience lifecycle, to invoicing, post-sales teams, product use, and online engagement at the end of the lifecycle.
3. Guage The Influence of Each Touchpoint On The Customer Experience
With each touchpoint, your business’s prospect or customer is influenced to a continue to the next stage the customer lifecycle, stay where they are, or drop out of it entirely.
Each experience results in a determination of the value of doing business with you, and a perception of the difficulty or worth of maintaining that relationship.
4. Cross Reference Customer Satisfaction Ratings with Customer Value Ratings
A customer may love the engagement they have with your sales team in person or online, but what influence does that engagement have on their decision to buy or not buy?
A customer may be satisfied with product support and warranty but is that satisfaction enough to keep him or her a customer if a competitive product becomes available for $100/unit less?
A proper audit will cross-reference customer satisfaction of each touchpoint with the influence that touch point has a decision to spend the same, less, or more money with your business. Or advocate for your business beyond merely continuing to buy it.
5. Benchmark Score and Audit Regularly
Again, we’re focused on long-term strategy. A proper customer experience audit can unveil a plethora of breakdowns or opportunities; however, without a formal scoring and benchmarking mechanism, judging improvement becomes a fuzzy-science, which is fraught with future risk.
Your audit should benchmark experiences at each stage by customer and customer group that indicates satisfaction, as well as the effect on the customer lifecycle.
When aggregated, these scores become a benchmark that your business can measure customer experience management success.
Further, the components provide insight into the mechanics that can take advantage of opportunities identified or fix roadblocks found in moving customers along their journey from prospect to customer, and from customer to advocate.
Remember, an audit isn’t just a checklist but a living, breathing engagement and tracking mechanism that should provide ongoing analysis of the influence each touchpoint has on moving customers along their customer journey.
When customers step along this journey efficiently, advocates will emerge that will result in more organically generated qualified leads that convert faster and drive even more significant lifetime value.
Interested a Customer Experience Audit?
By identifying, measuring, and benchmarking the touchpoints outlined within this article, Sensei can detect blockages in the customer journey – from lead generation to customer advocacy – that positively or negatively affect customer lifetime value and business profitability.
These learnings allow us to provide strategic recommendations, based on empirical data that will improve customer engagement, customer value, and overall customer satisfaction.
Our proprietary Customer Insight & Analysis Services provides a robust suite of tools to help your company improve the value of your customer relationships. The report is structured to answer the following five questions:
- How secure are my customer relationships and how are they changing?
- Do I have problems in how I deal with my customers?
- What Are My Action Priorities?
- Which customers represent the most risk?
- Which customers represent the most opportunity?