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Without customers, there is no business. Decisions about how we connect and engage prospects and maintain customer relationships are critical. The rise of the digital world has radically changed many aspects of the customer relationship. Digital marketing, social media and mobile technologies have all impacted customers and prospects. Buyers now leverage new channels of information long before they engage their providers. This more informed customer presents new selling challenges as traditional sales methodologies must incorporate digital and social selling skills. Meanwhile, the competition uses online channels to court our existing customers every day.
Marketing, sales and customer experience must own the customer relationship from initial contact through the lifetime of the buyer/seller relationship. The role of Marketing has completely transformed in response to how the digital customer connects with, buys from, and interacts with providers. As the traditional capabilities of the salesperson have morphed to adapt to the new buying environment, sales professionals with new social skills and digital fluency are in high demand. The customer experience team views the customer experience holistically, incorporating all customer touch points for service, support and fulfillment.
Tap Your Network for Solutions
When Sherrie Simmons took on a challenging new role, Vistage gave her the support network she needed.
When you are an executive at a small organization, pursuing your own professional development can be challenging. So, when Sherrie Simmons joined Ultra Mobile, a fast growing startup, she turned to Vistage for support.
Since its launch, Ultra has grown 100 percent in revenue year after year, but the customer care operation had grown just as quickly. One of Simmons’s first tasks as chief operating officer was to determine whether Ultra was offering the right customer service at a reasonable price to the organization. As she delved into her challenge, she shared her findings with her Vistage group. It served as her sounding board and helped to validate her decisions. Simmons concluded that she needed to bring customer care systems in house, rather than let their partners run them, so Ultra could own the data.
“When no one in my group had ever started or transformed a customer support function, I was referred to other members,” she explains. As she evaluated SaaS solutions, she turned to Vistage members with customer care systems experience for vendor recommendations, which sped up the RFP process. She also shared proposed pricing so she could make an informed buying decision.
Simmons and her team launched Ultra’s new customer care operation in January and, in doing so, reduced costs by more than 45 percent. Ultra has also dramatically increased its net promoter score (NPS), an index that measures a customer’s willingness to recommend a business to others and the percentage of customer problems that are resolved on the first call.
Simmons doesn’t fear failure, which helps her make big decisions, and quickly. But making the decision is just the beginning.
Simmons’s group Chair, Beth Adkisson, helped to remind her of the importance of getting buy-in from those around you. “She would gently put a mirror in front of me and remind me that not everyone thinks like me. I have to bring them along.”
Simmons continues to use Vistage to inform her business decisions. Recently, she introduced AI technology to her organization—but not before demonstrating the customer chat bot for her Vistage group members. They poked holes in it and inspired Simmons to make adjustments that ultimately led to a seamless deployment.
As Ultra’s growth continues, so, too, does Simmons’s. “I’m still on this journey,” she says. “I so look forward to every meeting I have with my team members, because all of us are continually looking for ways to improve.”