Best practices in evolving how we interact with our customers
It’s not exactly news because they’ve been steadily changing for as long as they’ve been consumers. As technology evolves at an accelerating rate, however, the faster our targets change and the more agile we need to be to engage with them.
Whether in a business-to-consumer or business-to-business relationship, the sales function has always revolved around knowing where a customer is and how they want to be approached - and then approaching them.
But this is no longer true. More than ever, customers don’t want to be engaged on our terms. They want to engage us on theirs. With the field force still accounting for the highest costs from a sales function, and no longer delivering as much ROI, what is a business to do?
In 2015, a major leader in the consumer products manufacturing space, engaged KPMG in the UK to answer just that question.
The client, operating in more than 160 countries, was looking to navigate a difficult environment with many challenges that included heightened regulations, increased competition and a changing economic landscape around the world. Amidst all these concerns, they were facing one more than any other: after traditionally relying on face-to-face sales representatives, how would they evolve to help customers reach them across multiple channels?
The solution was required not only to transform their sales processes, but also expand their customer base—and improve customer experience as a whole.
To do it, KPMG needed to understand the existing customer experience. KPMG in the UK did it by mapping every single consumer journey across the key sales accounts, giving us insight into the lifecycle of a typical customer. What KPMG found was that while face-to-face wasn’t nearly as important to customers in general, it was still valuable as a tool for certain accounts. Thus, they created a blended model of face-to-face, digital and telephony channels. It not only allocated funds where they would be used most efficiently, but also allowed the customers to choose how and when they accessed their services.
This allowed us to avoid a common pitfall. Many organizations are simply reducing the costs allocated to the field force to redistribute elsewhere, because it’s less expensive and can reach more people. It’s always important though, to remember who your sales function is ultimately for: the people who use them. Without them in mind—and without the value your services provide them in mind—your strategy is doomed to fail.
To avoid situations like this, KPMG firms make use of a methodology known as the Six Pillars of Customer Experience Excellence, which blend optimization efforts for the organization with optimization efforts from the standpoint of that most crucial stakeholder, the customers.
In the end, our updated strategy led to helping the client manage costs and support growth while still satisfying their customer base.