People do not buy an Apple computer because it is a better computer than its rival PC. They buy one because of the emotions that Apple evokes in their customers. Emotions are a critical component of decision-making. Every interaction a customer has with an organization induces an emotion in the customer, which affects the customer’s experience, perception and loyalty towards the company. Yet many science companies are slow to manage the emotions of their customers. In financial terms, managing customer emotions can increase the efficiency of generating demand.
Today’s marketing best practice in many business-to-business industries is shifting away from a total focus on ‘rational’ marketing messages and many companies have been able to successfully differentiate themselves from competitors solely based on emotional benefits, namely the customer experience their provide.
Customer experience is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a vendor over the duration of their entire relationship with that supplier. In fact, some would argue that the experience is most important after the purchase event. Joseph Jaffe, speaker at the 2011 interactive conference South by Southwest (SXSW) gave a talk entitled “Flip the Funnel: Retention is the New Acquisition,” in which he stated the majority of customer experience activities should really start after a first purchase, not before. He argued for perfecting customer experience to maximize retention. While this notion sounds too simplistic to be taken seriously, consider the effort that most science companies go through to acquire a new customer through lead generation, tradeshow attendance, and advertising. Now consider how little attention is paid to focusing on the emotions of customers these companies already have.
The positive emotions triggered during a customer’s experience pay much more lucrative dividends. A loyal customer is not only satisfied but also emotionally connected to the brand, says Jaffe. This ‘smart demand generation’, one that looks beyond the initial sale to focus on nurturing post-sales relationships through CRM programs is imperative to every company.
Shoe vendor Zappos is a model of success for maximizing market demand through delivering excellence in customer experience. Approximately 75% of Zappos’ customers are recurring, satisfied customers who recommend other customers to Zappos. Companies who manage the emotions of their customer experience enjoy much more robust annual sales growth at lower operating costs. In fact in a 2005 London School of Economics Advocacy-Growth Study found that Net Promoter is a statistically significant predictor of annual sales growth.
The most effective way to positively influence customer experience is through personalization of communications. Every single customer expects and deserves the company’s attention, as is evidenced by an almost cult-like loyalty of scientific companies such as Molecular Probes (now Life Technologies) and New England Biolabs. These companies broke the orthodoxies of company-customer communications styles to provide truly personalized relationships. Companies should seek to influence their customers’ individual motivations and decisions in order to drive demand. As with all people, scientists want to feel special. A transactional customer experience is not enough to make a positive emotional impact.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools like SalesForce.com, and marketing automation tools such as Marketo and Eloqua now allow companies to treat every customer as a market segment of one. Jaffe states “customer service has a memory.” While today’s CRM technology enables the capability to deliver personalized communication, the smartest science companies are actively working on a content strategy to ensure every customer is nurtured on their own terms.
Joseph Jaffe, SXSW Conference, “Flip the Funnel: Retention is the New Acquisition,”
Beyond Philosophy, Net Promoter® and Revenue Growth.