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Customer Experience and Business Growth Article

 

We authored the article below which was published in the May 2017 issue of the East Midlands Chamber Business Network Magazine. It summarises some of our thinking around how development of the customer experience can play a pivotal role in a successful business growth (and improvement) programme;

 

Customer Experience and the Route to Business Success

 

Customer experience development is probably the single biggest opportunity to increase sales and reduce costs across most industries in the UK. That's a pretty bold statement, but is backed up by the actions of many corporate CEOs across the country who, in recent years, have invested large sums of money in Customer Insight and Customer Experience teams as the link between customer experience and profitability has become more widely understood. But what is Customer Experience exactly and how does it apply to an SME business? I'll provide a few pointers below.

 

What is Customer Experience?

 

There are a number of definitions for customer experience, but broadly speaking it is the way that a customer feels about a company after passing through various touchpoints on the journey from prospect through to purchase, product or service delivery, and after sales support. All touchpoints provide an opportunity to delight the customer as well as to switch the customer off from the purchase or a repeat sale. Customer experience covers a broad spectrum of business disciplines from Sales and Marketing to product/service design, Operations, HR, and Finance.

 

Increasing Sales and Reducing Costs

 

Below are just some of the potential benefits of delivering a quality customer experience, and generating a highly satisfied and loyal customer base;

 

- More orders/more frequent orders
- Longer customer lifetime
- More referrals
- Higher average order value
- Lower costs to service (less complaints, support requirements)
- Higher margins (less focus on price)
- Lower sales and marketing costs to bring in new customers
- Wallet share opportunities (additional products/services)

 

Some of the less tangible benefits include;

 

- Customer experience focus can provide a focal point for management and staff to drive the business forward
- Can help to remove narrow silo mentality across departments
- Less complaints, firefighting, and general stress in the business
- Higher staff morale and retention


If you look at some of the items above you'll realise that customer experience development isn't some wishy washy customer service concept, it's about adding genuine long term value to a business and represents a massive untapped development and growth opportunity for many SMEs. Ask yourself is your business providing enough reasons for your customers to remain loyal to you?

 

Where do we Start?

 

It's important to start at the top with any customer experience project, with the whole management team buying into customer experience principles. Some number crunching of the loyalty economics at the early stages of a project can help the team understand the rationale for the business. Realigning performance measurement and incentives around the customer experience also helps to get all team members pulling in the same direction.

 

Any successful customer experience programme will require you to have a full understanding of customer requirements across the customer journey from initial interest in your type of product or service to sale completion and beyond. It's best to take an outside in approach and fully understand your customer needs and emotions at different stages in the customer journey. Once you have a "customer journey map" you can evaluate your performance at key touchpoints and review opportunities to improve processes, policies and procedures along the way. There will be upfront opportunities to bring more customers successfully through the sales cycle and downstream opportunities to develop customer retention and loyalty. The good news is that many ideas will cost from zero to very little to implement and a touchpoint based approach enables you to pick off one improvement opportunity at a time, ideally starting off with some "quick wins".

 

Dare to be Different

 

A customer experience project will allow you to get the basics right with customers, but it also provides opportunities to spot areas for differentiation that might not previously have been considered. As you look at different touchpoints you should be asking questions about whether you are making life easy for customers, are you taking their emotions and higher objectives into account, etc. Workshops with staff are a great way to draw out opportunities for differentiation and improvement.

 

Final Message

 

With products and services becoming increasingly commoditised, and customers able to publicise positive or negative feedback at the touch of a mouse, the customer experience is quickly becoming the new business battlefield, and it's time for SMEs as well as corporates to get in tune with this new business discipline.

 

UK Companies lose Billions to Poor Service

 

A report published by the independent Ombudsman Services has indicated that British companies lost £37 billion to poor customer service in 2016.

 

The research, carried out amongst 2,500 consumers, found that 28% of consumers ditched a brand due to poor service. The retail industry was the most complained about sector, followed by telecoms and energy.

 

One of the major issues is the poor handling of customer complaints, which totalled 55 million in 2016, an increase of 3 million over 2015. The report highlighted that 79% of consumers interviewed were unlikely to shop again at a business where their complaint had not been handled effectively.

 

The report indicated that 63% of consumers feel disillusioned and are resigned to poor service, no longer trusting businesses to do the right thing.

 

All in all this shows that there is still a great opportunity for companies to grow sales by improving customer service and dispute resolution, as well as an opportunity for smaller and newer businesses to set themselves apart with a strong customer service ethos.

 

Business Growth Audit Launch


Alchemy 7 has launched a new Business Growth Audit service for companies of all sizes that are looking for an independent and fresh perspective on how they can grow and develop their business (or a part of their business) in the future.

The Audit comprises structured discussions and questionnaires with senior management and staff as well as external market research including an in-depth competitor analysis. Internal research may also include one or more business growth workshops to draw out new ideas and gain full employee involvement.

A sample of existing customers, past customers, and prospects will also be questionned on their attitudes towards the company and product or service enhancements that they would like to see in the future. Customers are more likely to reveal their true thoughts to a third party company. Past customers may, for example, use price as an excuse for moving away, whereas research shows that typically two thirds of customers go elsewhere due to a perceived lack of interest from the supplier/poor service. We also review relevant marketing and customer facing documentation and processes.

The main output from the Audit will be a Business Growth Action Plan which will be based around our 7 Profit Multipliers. This will include, for example, improvements to market positioning, sales lead generation, sales conversion, and customer lifetime/customer experience. We can assist with the implemenation of the Action Plan if required.

Growth Audit Guarantee – if the perceived value of the Action Plan isn’t at least 5 times the cost of the Audit then we will refund all fees in full.

For further information please get in touch.

 

Testimonials

"With Gary's help we were able to rapidly enter the UK market and achieve exceptional growth in our first year. Gary worked with us to adapt and develop our UK sales and marketing strategy to meet UK customer requirements, and successfully helped us sign up several major key accounts in our industry. I would recommend Gary to any company that is serious about growing its business".
Patrick Frimat, MD, RSI Video Technologies

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