Customer Experience & the Critical Role Sales Plays


Posted By Deirdre Sommerkamp | Oct 01, 2013


Today is the first annual CX Day, a global celebration of companies and people that are creating great experiences for customers. CX Day received official U.S. Congressional recognition, and I could not be happier. We have accomplished a great deal!

Customer Experience - CX Day

Customer Experience (CX) as a function is not as well-known as Finance, Human Resources or Sales, but it continues to gain recognition.

The past decade has certainly seen customer experience evolve from a focus on metrics like satisfaction and Net Promoter Score (NPS) to a focus on strategy, leadership, corporate culture, employee engagement and emotional insight. Metrics still play a role, but focusing on them is not enough. While some organizations have been working hard to understand and improve their customer experience, others are just starting to realize the importance. The quality of an organization’s CX effort spans a wide range. For some, there is a holistic CX function that defines its solutions, products and services from the customer perspective in, not from the company perspective out. For others, they launch an initiative or two to “fix” their CX issues only to become frustrated when their fragmented initiatives fail.

Social media, customer channels and the age of the empowered customer have brought to light how customers feel and think about their experiences in real time. As a result, CX professionals are listening in new ways, innovating, and experimenting. The significance of examining current processes and day-to-day interactions taking place across their organization is paramount.

For any CX transformation to be successful, it should have full support of the organization’s executive team and should report up to the CEO, the one ultimately responsible for the organization’s culture. In many organizations, CX is owned by Operations or Marketing. The success of CX in those organizations depends, in large part, on the level of support given to the COO, CMO or other head of Operations/Marketing by the CEO and leadership team.

The Crucial Role of Sales in the Customer Experience

I frequently think about the role sales people play in CX. Every interaction with a customer (or potential customer) is an opportunity to either delight or disappoint.

A customer typically goes through several touch points before they actually make a purchase. Sales people that consistently demonstrate listening that translates into action (e.g., providing information, sharing how other customers have realized value, etc.) are creating positive touch points. Customers feel at ease doing business with these sales people. On the other hand, one bad experience at any of the touch points is all it takes to lose a sale.

In addition to delighting the customer, sales people must continually adapt to change… changes in buyer behavior, quota, product and solution, organization (e.g., mergers and acquisitions, segmentation), process, management, price, content, technology and increased competition… Can we get these heroes some help?!

Sales processes and sales playbooks must be adaptive, iterative and flexible to meet the changing needs of sales people. They are your customers. Ask what they need and listen… Ask frequently and do not assume because you asked six months ago they are all set. Remove obstacles and barriers. Eliminate activities that are unnecessary and do not add value. Replace them with the vital few things needed (e.g., personalized documents, situation-specific coaching, email templates, consistent messaging). Help sales people build partnerships centered around customers, not products.

Let’s empower and enable these colleagues of ours. They have a critical role to play in CX!

To join today’s CX Day celebration, go to: