One percent. One percent. That’s how many companies in the United States that are, according to Forrester’s Q1 2015 US Customer Experience index report, giving their customers an excellent customer experience. Just one percent are actively ensuring their customers and prospects enjoy positive interactions at every touchpoint with their organization, including in conversations with support and sales, while navigating the company website, and even during social media interactions.

In an incredibly crowded technology marketplace, there’s a huge competitive advantage to giving your customers a truly world-class experience.

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So how do you do it?

How to create a great customer experience

A critical piece of modern marketing is ensuring that the experience you provide at every single touchpoint throughout the customer lifecycle is excellent. The IDC eBook, sponsored by Microsoft, The Modern Microsoft Partner Series, Part 3: Modernize Sales and Marketing, 2016 provides practical tips and how-to advice to help you start strengthening your digital marketing muscle and perfecting the customer experiences you provide.

Here are a few ways to get started:

Define your unique value proposition.

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Why should prospects choose you? It’s crucial to know what you do well and concentrate on doing it even better. Fine tune your processes so you implement solutions faster, more smoothly, and at a lower cost to you and your customers. Repeatable solutions are great for this because you can really hone your method and perform it at a very high level. When you want to offer more and don’t have all the expertise the project requires, partner up to continue providing a seamless customer experience.

Have customer-centric experiences at every touchpoint.

Remember that your customers are on a buying journey, moving through several stages, each with unique needs. If they’re in the explore stage, looking for answers to their problems, comment on their questions on blogs or in discussion groups. Are they evaluating? Be ready with whitepapers and demos that showcase your solution. If they’re ready to purchase, have a website and salespeople who make it easy and give them confidence in their decisions.

To help you tailor your communications based on what stage your customers are at in their journey, The Modern Microsoft Partner Series, Part 3: Modernize Sales and Marketing offers a few suggestions:

  1. Start off by using strategies like “Freemium” offers, which give visitors a free “taste” of your solution so they understand the value you offer, while allowing you to capture a prospect’s information.
  2. Then, when you know your customers and have an idea of the best type of customer you want to work with, you can tailor offers to attract the prospects you want. Keep in mind that easy-to-consume products that can be put into practice right away give prospects a great first experience and the confidence that you can do more for them.
  3. Finally, use CRM data to adapt and personalize your sales approach to different audiences—are your sales teams talking to IT or line-of-business executives, for example? Have experiences that speak directly to the different audiences.

Leverage your sales teams.

Research from The Modern Microsoft Partner Series, Part 3: Modernize Sales and Marketing found that 61 percent of partners have specifically hired or trained salespeople to be skilled at targeting a vertical or business process. Have you? If you’ve ever sat down with a salesperson and felt they truly understood your problems and had answers, you know why customers want that same great experience from you. We know that line-of-business executives have more and more influence over tech purchasing decisions, so be sure your sales team is trained in the customers’ vertical and can speak knowledgeably to industry execs.

And it’s not just in sales that your salespeople add value. They know your customers well, so bring your sales team together with your marketing team to brainstorm your company’s unique value proposition.

Empower your workforce.

There are lots of ways your workforce can help bring in prospects and extend their lifecycle with you. Use the combined insights of not only your salespeople but also support staff, trainers, and other customer-facing employees to build complete customer journey templates. Consider having knowledgeable staff write thought leadership blogs.

Encourage your employees to continue communicating with customers all the way through the post-purchase stages of the journey. You gave the customer a terrific onboarding experience, now keep that good relationship going so they’ll renew and grow with you.

Track your customers, measure, and adapt.

These days, you have to think about customer lifetime value—how can you continue to offer solutions and services they can’t live without? Track your customers, figure out what great service means to them, and continue to provide high-value experiences throughout the customer lifetime.

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Think about the last time you had a really great (or really awful) customer experience. Did it impact your decision to use that vendor again? If only one percent of companies is focusing on providing exceptional customer experiences, then there’s a huge opportunity for you to differentiate yourself from the pack. Download The Modern Microsoft Partner Series, Part 3: Modernize Sales and Marketing to learn more about creating a great customer experience, then visit our Smart Partner Marketing site for more marketing best practices.

Jennifer Tomlinson

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