Customer orientation is the central basis for increasing customer satisfaction. How is customer orientation successfully implemented and anchored in the corporate culture?
Before answering this question, we need to be clear about why companies want to source services externally.
We experience time and again that in sales it is assumed that the (potential) customer has no expertise or no resources. Highly motivated, they throw themselves into discussions and requirements workshops (ideally paid for by the service provider) in order to subsequently offer the customer the best possible solution for their requirements.
The disillusionment comes when the customer does not react as the service provider expected. Suddenly, the service provider is confronted with the facts that the order does not come immediately or at all, or that he faces competition.
For many sales people, a world then suddenly collapses and they have the feeling that there is no communication based on partnership. The offer is vehemently defended, the content is justified and limits for an order are pointed out.
A spiral develops that has no Customer loyalty but rather counteracts it. Questions are asked as to how this could have happened, what should have been done differently, and so on.
At this point at the latest, most decision-makers drop out and the probability of success drops towards 0%.
This raises the question of what exactly went wrong. After all, the service provider behaved in a customer-oriented manner, asked questions, listened and meticulously recorded the requirements. The result is an absolutely suitable offer that meets all requirements and provides the customer with the best solution.
So far, so good. But there are a few crucial points here that have simply been forgotten. On the one hand, very specific questions and, on the other hand, the perception of the task of a customer-oriented consultant.
In the case I outlined, the following questions were forgotten to be asked and at no point in the entire process did they come up:
Dear customer, what are your expectations of the future service provider and partner for this project?
Dear customer, what budget do you have planned and how do we want to deal with the situation when the optimal solution for your requirements exceeds the budget?
Two manageable and very simple questions, but which have a huge impact on the development of the customer relationship. Questions that deal with the customer's motivation.
Of course, customers want the best solutions at the best conditions. But in most cases, it is much more important that the decision-makers/responsible persons are looking for a sparring partner who can also tell them directly when they are getting it wrong or when there are more optimal solutions. They want an advisor who understands them, helps them make decisions and lets them sleep more soundly at night.
It's not about feature-f@%King or how well the solution meets the requirements. Often you have to tell the customer when the requirements are perhaps not up to date or another approach is the more optimal way.
At this point at the latest, you maneuver yourself - at "eye level" - into the role of consultant and enable a trusting partnership.
Conversely, this also means sometimes foregoing an order or accepting reductions in volume. The focus is on the customer and not on our own economic interests.
Many decision-makers will thank you for it and honor this approach accordingly at the appropriate time.