Where does Customer eXperience begin?

I’ve been thinking about this question for some time – are we missing the boat when it comes to  where customer experience begins? During a recent post Andy Taylor, a friend and thought leader in sales enablement, and I we’re having a conversation on LinkedIn where he identified the importance of defining your ideal customer profile (ICP).  At that moment, I questioned – Does Customer Experience (CX) start in the definition of your ideal customer profile?  In this post, I would like for the audience to really think about the result and work backwards – there will be a few practical tips and tricks when you define your ICP.

During my time at start up organizations we always would take time to identify the ICP and then start prospecting. It was not until Andy and I were having this on-line conversation that I realized that the definition of your ICP even before the sales process begins has direct correlation on the experience your customer has through the sales process (and beyond).Work backwards → your product or service should map to a value proposition that would enable your customers to derive (or to solve problems) that they’re having with in their business. Not identifying your ICP or you miss identifying (maybe even worse) your ICP will be detrimental for your business. You will be spending a lot of time and money in sales and marketing to people (or companies) that may not gain the value that YOU believe they should with your product or service – Remember it is NOT about you, it is about your customer.

Let’s get tactical → What are the results your customers are trying to accomplish with the product or service?   How do your customers define success if they were using your product or service (I know for every customer this may be different however there is a result your customers are expecting from your product or service)? For example in my case I am selling customer experience for contact centers, their agents, and their customers – my customer are looking to enable self-service for their customers and empower their agents. Now that I identified my customer’s expectations, I can start working backwards into driving a value proposition for my products and services – reverse engineer the result you are looking to obtain.  

Here is what I have found through my last several years of selling, my customers are:

  • Identifying the challenges (in priority order) that need to be addressed in the organization
  • Identifying the personnel within their organization that will solve the challenge
    • Many challenges involve multiple departments
  • The multi-department team starts to research how to solve the challenge

This is where it is important for you as a salesperson or as an organization to make sure that you are providing the right content, in the right place, for this team to find information to solve their challenge.   Think about a time where you received content from a company that had nothing to do with your position or challenges that you were trying to solve – what did you think about the organization that sent you that piece of mail or email?  Each one of the people within the buying journey may represent different parts of the organization so for example a chief risk officer will need a different piece of content (written in their language) vs. a chief financial officer.  As you can see in this case that one size does not fit all and the content needs to be created accordingly.

Now that you have your ICP defined and content for the ICP, you can now start training your salespeople to have conversations and generate emails that would be interesting for the particular individuals that you’re trying to market and sell your product. The content designed for your ICP is much more likely to be opened or more likely to be taken into account when having a conversation because it is in their language and relates to your product or service.

Let’s see how this works and practice, I sell to call centers executives and other people that are interested in the customer experience. So my ideal client profile is a chief customer officer, Executive Vice President of the call center and COO of an organization.  Additionally I may also sell to a CFO if I’m looking to discuss reduction and operational expenses based on their current operating processes, procedures and technologies. As you can imagine each one of these individuals that I would sell two would need different content and information for the same type of technology.

Here are a couple example conversations for each of the ICPs that we described above based on selling our Knowledge-base solution:

  • Chief Customer Officer – we can enable your customers to find answers to their questions through the web portal in a self-service model. This will enable your customers to find the information that they want in the way that they want to find it (when they want to find it).
  • COO – we could integrate the knowledge-base to the other articles that you have within your organization (our outside of your organization) to make it more efficient and effective for your employees.  This will enable your employees and customers to have a consistent experience no matter the channel they utilize and allow you to centralize information for your organization.
  • CFO – we can offer you a knowledge-base that will enable your customers to find their information on their own which will reduce the cost by reducing the number of calls into your call-center, we can probably save you X millions of dollars on an annualized basis.

As you can see when we take the same product or service and “map” is against different people in the buyer’s journey, who will all be part of the conversation at some point, as it is important to actually get the right content to the right person. The people in the buying process want to know that you understand their particular challenges and how your product or service will help solve their problems with the organization. When do you get the initial conversation initiated you will probably be push you to people lower in the organization to do the evaluation and go through the process of understanding the complete value of your product or service. Once again you will need to have specific content for these people within the organization to make sure that you are working on the value that they are interested in obtaining.

Think of the following:

  • (P) osition
  • (L) evel
  • (A) lign
  • (Y) early goals

If you use this technique of understanding those three characteristics you’ll be able to create content quickly for the right audience at the right time in the sales process.  Thinking about your ICP will allow you collapse your sales cycle because you’re calling into the people that will understand your value and are more willing to give you information. Your prospects/customers will feel you’ve done the work to understand their needs and problems which will enable you to get the information that you require to qualify or disqualify (see a post I wrote on disqualification) this opportunity quickly.  Finally, you will also want to find out what your buyer’s personal win will be through this process – remember sales is an emotional transaction.

There is some great information on different buyers and how the buying journey has changed from the CEB – this is a great resource.

What are your thoughts on ICP’s?  Do you know who your ICP is for your product or service?  I would love to have your thoughts on the topic, please comment below.

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