Empathy Is Everything
Empathy is a buzzword that gets thrown around way too much. But, authentic empathy can help your organization build stronger relationships with your customers and increase customer lifetime value. Need proof? Post-COVID research shows that “84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business” (Salesforce, 2020).
The phrase, “Put yourself into the mind of your customer” has been adopted by every salesperson since there were products to sell (so basically, forever). It helps a salesperson empathize with the problems their customer is trying to solve, and gain buy-in to the product they’re trying to sell.
However, what they really mean is “Put yourself into the mind of your buyer.” Putting yourself in the mind of the buyer will help you get a buyer to buy. But how do you put yourself into the mind of the now customer that you want to renew and turn into an advocate?
A Tale Of Two B2B Customer Journeys
The post-sale journey is complex – as customer success practitioners, we all know that. Most companies define the B2B customer journey as exactly that – a journey, with defined steps that they feel a customer needs to take in order to achieve value. What many business leaders tend to miss is that the post-sale journey is an emotive experience for the customer as they move through using your product, engaging with your people, your content, and the outside world.
Organizations often think they are thinking like their customer, but are actually doing this through the lens of their own company strategy, culture and values. These inward perspectives drive the stages, the language, and the definitions applied to the customer journey. They do not offer a true sense of what the customer is really thinking, feeling, and experiencing.
Take the B2B customer journey itself – onboard, adopt, expand and renew. All terms we’ve heard before and used to describe and categorize the post-sale motion. Is that how your customer is thinking about it? For example, if we look at the transition between what would typically be defined as Adopt and Expand, does your customer think to themselves – ‘Wow, I’ve adopted all of the features and functions of this use case, it’s time for me to expand!’ No, they aren’t. So what might they be thinking instead?
Experiencing The B2B Customer Journey From Your Customer’s POV
The customer’s perception is the reality that you need to respond to. If you really think like your customer, you start to experience your products and services as they would. You’re on the journey with them, reacting as they would react, moving as they would move – and as a CS organization you can use that knowledge to your advantage.
Instead of a customer thinking “I am moving into the expansion phase of my journey with this company”, what you hope they are actually thinking is, “Alright, I bought this product to solve a problem, I’m seeing the results I expected and I like working with their team. Maybe there’s more I can do?”
That is your slice of opportunity to retain and grow your customer.
Empathize with this customer’s desire to learn what other problems/opportunities they can tackle to drive their own journey as an employee of your customer. Take a diagnostic and prescriptive approach to helping the customer answer their question.
If you can’t have empathy for what your customer is experiencing, then the prospect of adoption, retention and ultimately revenue are at risk.
Place Empathy At The Heart Of Your Customer Journey
All buyers buy because they have a problem they need to solve, and they trust the promise that your solution will get the job done. It’s a promise that your sales team makes in the sales process.
As a Customer Success organization, it’s your job to keep that promise and go even further, which is difficult to do if you don’t understand what your customer is thinking, feeling and doing as they experience your products and services. Customer Success is about empathy and delivering results – and there is no better way to do that than understanding the journey your customer experiences through their eyes.
At Valuize, our Strategy practice weaves this approach into every project we deliver. To chat about how we may be able to help you rethink and reframe your customer experience, shoot me a note or connect with our team here.