Customer satisfaction is just the minimum; your goal is to engage your customers. Customer satisfaction is “merely the entry point for achieving a deeper foundation that rests on total customer engagement,” according to the book Discover Your Sales Strengths: How the World’s Greatest Salespeople Develop Winning Careersby Benson Smith and Tony Rutigliano.
Everyone aims to satisfy the customers: in fact, you and your competitors may have the same customer satisfaction ratings. What will set you apart from your competition — and ensure the growth of your business — is to satisfy your customers to the point that you engage them.
The authors point that an engaged customer is the most valuable asset of any organization. Engaged customers assure a business of sustained and profitable growth. They are the first who will continue to repurchase your products, and the most likely to recommend you to other people.
Your goal, therefore, is not just to generate sales, but bring in loyal and engaged customers. The authors say,
“The key to winning a leading edge is in building customer attachment to you, your company, and its products and services.”
How do you build customer engagement? Using research from the Gallup Organization, the authors find four emotional dimensions that create customer engagement. The building blocks for an engaged customer and how your sales team can work at it are as follows:
You will gain the customers’ confidence if they feel that the brand or company is trustworthy and keeps its promises. You must make your customers trust you. How exactly do you elicit “trust?” Different researchers offer different explanations. Customers trust the people they like (too subjective!) and suspicious of those they do not like. They trust people with similar backgrounds (same school, same neighborhood, etc.). Some trust a business that was introduced to them by a friend or opinion leader that they trust.
Building trust is a highly complex process. While there is no known formula, trust is about predictability. Customers hate surprises: you must deliver what you promise will deliver, in a consistent manner. Avoid promises that you cannot keep; and make sure that your product works.
Your customers must feel that your business treats them fairly. The authors contend that most customers are reasonable in their expectations of you and they “expect to be treated in a way that is commensurate with the terms of their business relationship with you.” For example, make them understand the rationale for your pricing, particularly your discount structure. Make them feel that you are treating them above board.
More than snob appeal, your customers must feel good about your product or service. Consumers feel that products or services are often extensions of themselves: what they use reflects on them. Your customers must be proud in using your products. They must feel that they are important to your business, and that they have made a smart choice in dealing with you.
To engage your customers, you must continue making them feel good about their decision to choose you among your competitors. Give them the kind of attention that generates a feeling of pride, even long after they have made the purchase.
You are able to instill passion in your customers if they view your product as irreplaceable. This is the point when customers say that they “love” you.
According to the authors, discovery is the key to instilling passion from the customers. The best sales representatives observe that they can achieve the “pinnacle of customer engagement” if they are “bringing them new ways to do business.” Instead of waiting for customer’s request, you need to look for “opportunities to be innovators” on your customer’s behalf. This entails going the extra mile for your customers.
The book provides that sales is about “being trustworthy, diligent, consultative, and, at the highest levels, inspiring.” To succeed in an ever-changing market, you can no longer simply operate based on customer satisfaction. Instead, you must find every means to keep your customers engaged to you, and be with you over the long haul.