The old days of vendor complacency based on relationships are over. Today, customers put more value on their experiences, not only from the things they buy but those they engage in buying them. In a fast moving digital world, our customers can determine what they want, or believe they need long before they engage with those who deliver it. Organizations must learn how to monetize their customers’ experience, and then put the structure in place to succeed in providing a better experience than that of their competitor, who relies on relationship selling. Too many organizations focus on the things they deliver and their perception of the derived benefits along with their long status quo relationships.
Successful companies make the deliverable about the experience. Think of this. When a potential customer is deciding on one vendor over another, the process becomes commodity driven. However, when prospects are introduced to satisfying experiences, they then shop for the better experience. Exceptional experiences are never a commodity, and exceptional experiences always challenge the arrogance of those banking only on their relationships.
Some organizations are confusing the importance of balancing the scales between their “internal customers’ experience” and “external customers’ experience,” this out of balance is weighing heavy against customer service and customer experience. I recently read a comment on LinkedIn where the commenter suggested that customer experiences were overrated and organizations should focus more on employee experience. Well, most logical business professionals would immediately realize, if unbalanced, how stupid that thinking is. Without the customer, it matters nothing on how well everyone on the team gets along, or how happy they are in their unchallenging existence. These organizations who put their employee experience ahead of their customer’s experience will be defeated. Their defeat will come from the competitors who understand a business exists for its external customers; they understand rewards for internal customers are paid by the external customers, and they understand the reward amount is determined by the experience their external customers receive. In 2017 your customer relationships will not win over your customers’ desired experience.
“You can be the vendor with the greatest relationships and quickly lose to the new unknown competitor who delivers a better experience.”
So next time you evaluate your vendors, ask yourself these questions. Whose “experience satisfaction” is more valuable to you? Is it yours or the vendor you hired? Do you care more about the perks your vendor gives its employees or the service and support they give you? Does the vendor tell you how great they are, or do you tell them? Does the vendor ever help grow your business even if they may sacrifice from that growth? Does the self-proclaimed great vendor charge more based on the words of their greatness or the actions from their greatness?
Keep in mind you may not be asking these questions of your vendors, but I wouldn’t bet on your customers not asking these questions of you.
Today I believe the vendor who hollers the loudest about their great relationships should be the vendor its customers audit first. Today customers are looking for solutions to problems or are presented products or services that capture their imagination. Today customers want to benefit from an experience, today’s customer will determine their relationship to be second to their experience. Organizations who sacrifice customer experience based on their defined relationship will soon perish. Customers do not search for companies who put their internal customers over their external customers. Customers do respect the balance of happiness between both internal and external customers, well as long as the scale tips just a little more toward them.
“A business is rewarded by its customers, the size of the reward is determined by the experience they receive.”