When responsibility for customer retention is dispersed throughout a company, you can end up with some unexpected – and negative – consequences. Not only can it impact revenue and relationships with existing customers, but it can also hurt sales efforts with new customers. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to combat these problems.

As I chatted with someone at a recent event, they shared a story that crystallized the risk. The person, we’ll call her Morgan, told me about a customer experience with a product she was thinking about buying to solve a problem for her company. Here’s her story:

A couple weeks ago, I saw a visually compelling ad online, which drove me to click through and sign up for a free trial with a project management tool. 

Immediately afterwards, I received the standard welcome email. About 10 minutes later, I got another email that explained what my next steps should be. Less than three hours after than, a third email arrived. Two hours later, yet another email pinged, inviting me to attend a live webinar.

With all of that inbox action, in one afternoon’s time, I was driven to unsubscribe.

I played in the tool for about 15-minutes but never took the time to dig in. Given my poor experience getting too many emails, I was afraid I would be bombarded if I continued using the platform.

Maybe the company intended to send Morgan four emails within a few hours, but it’s unlikely. What’s more probable is that the solution provider had different departments within the company reaching out to Morgan.

The welcome came from marketing. The webinar invitation was from customer success. Another email seemed to come from the sales team. In all of those cases, the intent was positive. Everybody was trying to provide a positive process to introduce her to the product. However, the effort didn’t seem coordinated. Who was monitoring the overall experience from the customer’s perspective?

The initial barrage of emails caused Morgan to unsubscribe, which cut off future communication. When a company can’t email a prospect, it creates a serious block to relationship building. Worse, the emails soured her interest in the tool itself by undermining her trust.

The company ultimately turned off a potential customer. This pattern is all too common, and it’s deadly.

When companies fail in one area of the customer experience, it bleeds into customers’ feelings about the company overall. Companies often think that customers are won or lost based on the quality of their solutions, but in reality, customers buy when they feel confident their needs will be met. Not just with the product, but by the relationship. In this case, the emails meant Morgan didn’t feel like it was a relationship at all.

As Morgan said, "It came across like a prime example of departments not communicating or considering the customer experience."

Because of their messy emails, Morgan no longer felt confident about the company. A problem that originated with the company’s communication meant Morgan no longer believed they would become the solution to her problem. As she shared, if they weren’t paying attention to the customer’s experience with their initial emails, what else would they overlook?

In this scenario, everyone lost. The company lost a potential customer and Morgan lost the chance to solve a business problem she genuinely needed to solve. “Had I gradually been introduced to the company’s solution and walked through the steps, I wouldn’t have disengaged,” she said.

Companies can assume the customer experience falls to customer success or customer service departments, but customer success teams can end up competing with sales and/or marketing to engage with prospects and customers. In Morgan’s case, communication from too many departments undermined her experience.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to help you avoid undermining relationships with prospects and customers.

It begins with an objective audit of your customers’ experience.

•  What are all the touchpoints a customer receives from your company?

•  Are touchpoints coordinated in both tone and strategy?

•  Are they optimized for the company’s overall objectives?

•  Does the experience make prospects and customers feel barraged, ignored, or valued?

Mapping out the answers to these questions with customers in mind can help your company avoid the pitfalls Morgan experienced. When your communication is delivered thoughtfully and strategically it will inspire new and existing customers to believe that your services will be equally targeted.

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