Customer Experience. A behavioural approach.

How does Will Smith match with the CRM topic? Why to discuss Customer Experience in relationship with CRM?

Experience isn’t what happened to a man, but what a man does with what happened to him. (Aldus Huxley) [valid for ladies too!]

The customer centric approach is a mantra we have been hearing for years: put the client at the focus of your business, listen to the client, pursue the client’s satisfaction… All good things, but how to perform that during interactions between the organisation and the client-person?

In B to B (high-value transactions for critical resources) the interaction is king. Client and vendor are in a negotiation with the purpose to develop a win-win agreement.

Behaviours performed during interaction strongly shape the experience retained by customers.

It is interesting to study what drives behaviours during the sales process, when the interaction between the client buyer (in-person) and the vendor’s salesperson gets more effective.

This is a topic discussed by many authors, to name just two important ones: Robert Cialdini ed Adam Grant.

Customer Experience and CRM is a growing topic that takes place in many articles including Zendesk blog: “Customer experience: strategies, importance and examples.” To remark that CRM vendors are aware of the impact of the tool on the sales process.

In our knowledge a fully comprehensive analysis over the impact of CRM over Customer Experience is not fully developed yet.

First and foremost let’s make it clear:

Well beyond the digital tool, CRM is an inclusive body of knowledge around the relationship between organisations and their clients (or stakeholders).

What I mean with fully comprehensive analysis is an evaluation of the links between customer experience and performed behaviours. Then between behaviour acted and the noticeable strategy over relationships with customers.

Let me be clear: no company will ever give you a wrong answer to this topic. It is quite rare to speak with an entrepreneur or a manager who may affirm: I don’t care about our Customer Experience!

  • Well, once a manager informed me their company was PROFIT ORIENTED. Which is not much different from that… (1992)

But today no. None will affirm that again.

Then we should imagine there is no more problem at all: everyone is aware of the importance of CX and they care to provide it to their customers.

But is this our personal experience as customers? Do we really feel every interaction with organisations runs smooth and clear? Maybe there is still quite a lot to do in order to transform what people say into what people do.

(Thanks to that we can keep our profession afloat!)

How to reconnect CX and CRM

What is the most relevant timeframe where a stakeholder interacts with the company? Probably the service time: the period of time during which the service is performed. The “moment of truth” as Gröonros defined it. So, designing the expected behaviours of each person involved into the service stage is the ultimate way to go: something that every company already does, isn’t it?

[Maybe some are doing it a bit better than others… ]

However, there is a critical stage where expectations originate and develop, and it exerts a significant impact on the overall interaction between companies and customers.

This stage is the less considered marketing and sales process. Let’s clarify:

  • The Marketing Stage is when customers become aware of the brand. They begin to familiarise themselves with its existence, value proposition, and brand character. During this stage, customers choose a brand based on their personal preferences, even in B2B contexts. Subsequently, they delve into other parameters to confirm their choice. It’s during this stage that communication regarding the value proposition and brand character plays a pivotal role in shaping customer expectations.
  • The Sales Process is a distinct stage that commences when the client reveals their intention to make a purchase to the organisation. Every aspect of this process has a significant impact on the shaping of customer expectations.

Now, we can introduce another layer of complexity: behaviours are not limited to human actions; they also encompass intangible aspects.

Due to the increasing digitisation of interactions, especially through tools like web-interactive applications, customers are exposed to the consequences of a prior decision-making process: the design of the value proposition.

In today’s business landscape, the customer experience during the sales process is a complex blend of interaction points. Some of these interactions are human-driven, while others, particularly informational touch points, are facilitated by machines.

Creating value with CRM

The ability to manage the entire journey, including each touch point, is at the core of modern Customer Experience expertise. This is a conce

pt far less evident than one might assume when interviewing entrepreneurs and managers.

 

In the last 20 years we’ve seen a paradigm’s change.

 

Let’s discuss something real: a case of customer experience design.

A client was designing an application for a CRM. The value proposition of that was on data enrichment and leads generation.

Prologue

In order to analyse the solidity of a company before engaging in a negotiation over a valuable amount of business with them, Financial Data of companies listed in government bodies (Companies House or Chamber of Commerce, Credit Score) may be of help.

At same time a list may also include contact data, so that a query based on some selection parameters may provide a list of companies that could belong to a target group for specific businesses.

The new solution was designed to empower CRM users with two main objectives: Data Enrichment and Leads Generation.

The majority of the processes were primarily automated: upon subscription, it initiated a trial period for testing purposes. Afterward, clients would assess the paid tiers, each offering varying monthly data limits. In most instances, little interaction occurred between the client and a vendor’s salesperson. Personalised negotiations only occurred when clients required a significant amount of data.

Now, contrary to our earlier assessment, interactions don’t depend solely on human behaviours. It’s crucial to understand that the interactions facilitated by the machine are a direct outcome of the design choices made by individuals within the company.

One of the significant challenges we had to address in this project was the absence of a customer-centric approach in designing the app’s features, particularly concerning the trial offer.

While the app’s interface can be enhanced through UX design—with experts offering effective solutions—there’s a more intricate issue: what data should users input on the trial settings page?

This isn’t solely a design concern; it’s about grasping the expectations of users who are engaging with a digital tool trial. [This is an aspect emphasised by advocates like Leandro Agrò because UX design is deeply rooted in users’ expectations and the psychology of interaction.]

The difference unveiled: Customer Experience design and Engineering Design can be almost non-reconcilable!

The approach taken by the engineering managers was primarily centered on ‘what we need’. However, without a clear understanding of customer perceptions, what we need can pose challenges when users are hesitant to provide such information upfront.

In the second stage, the design of the trial becomes critical: determining the right amount of data to offer for free during the solution testing is key.

Sales managers were inclined to provide the minimum amount possible, under the belief that even a small data sample would demonstrate the app’s effectiveness.

In this context, understanding becomes far more intricate than previously thought, as it requires a deep understanding of users’ expectations.

And this implies to have clear:

  1. how expectations are formed
  2. what is the status of art of trials by online digital tools that people may experience before to arrive to this one
  3. what is the value sharing perceived by users alongside the testing.

To be clear, we negotiated an amount of data that was not so trivial that it would make users uncomfortable or make them feel like the vendor was stingy. We believe that the success of a new service is affected by both the brand character and the brand value proposition.

Why ” The Pursuit of Happiness”

We all are striving in pursuit of happiness. Either who owns tech know-how and who is bringing to the table Customer Experience designing know-how.

And it’s the reconciliation of several contributes that, at the end, provides a design of behaviours and options that impacts on the Experience reached by Customers.

Our happiness is not given by winning the negotiation on our side establishing our own power, instead we all can pursue happiness by creating a third state of outcome that is winning for everyone, but the client primarily!

 

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