Andrew Penny, January 23 2018

11 - The Moment of Truth

 Carolanne decided to make an investment in Swedish furniture. And pretty soon she was sitting on her living room floor surrounded by cardboard, fiddly connectors, sheets of gleaming white melamine, Allen keys galore and sheets and sheets on iconic instructions. But, despite the instructions (in multiple languages and pictograms), it wasn’t going well. Did the Fijorni go into the Gruisenwald or was it the other way around. And where on earth was the Handselbog? 

So what the heck, might as well try the help line for a laugh… Unexpectedly, she was connected right away with a very helpful guy somewhere on the west coast. He talked her down and asked, “Do you have a glass of wine handy?” (Who knew that would be part of the instructions…??). So with wine in hand he talked her through every step of the assembly. It was as if two friends were spending an hour together while building furniture (and drinking wine).

 And she told all her friends about it. And she told me about it. And we too have invested in Sweden’s GDP.

 Any time an individual buys something it will impact their lives. In the case of furniture there can be an assembly issue. In the case of a bathtub, there is considerable effort required to physically connect it to their home. New software will change the way they work (Cool -  it’s saved in the cloud!). A new car will change the way they drive. (Follow-me radar is awesome). A new chain saw will change how you use it (don’t yank on the recoil starter).

 All of these factors impact the value a customer derives from the product…

 As a channel owner, you have end-to-end responsibility to ensure the value your company designed into the product (or service) is experienced by the customer. How you design the customer’s experience, and ongoing use, is very important. And much of that value must be effectively delivered by your channel partners. 

So what?

This is the moment of truth: the first time the customer you envisioned interacts with your product or service. Starting out on the right foot is incredibly important and will determine if it will be a life long love affair or just a fling. You should be striving to surprise and delight them.

If you are selling consumables you want them to come back for more. If you are selling durables, you want them to tell all their friends how great you are. Of course if that initial experience is terrible – they will definitely tell all their friends, their acquaintances, post it on Facebook and generally trash your company.  So, yes, it’s important to get right. 

 Do you have a problem?

 As a Channel owner, the first place to look for information is your front-line team – sales, customer service, accounting, etc. It may be difficult to reach through your channel to find this information but hopefully they are already monitoring this.  If your product or service is one that can be bought many times (consumables, services, etc)  – look for repeat buying behaviour. (Note:  Repeat buying behaviour, or lack of it, is a symptom….it may be that your product is great but is being bought by people or companies for which it was never intended.) If your products evolve over time, look at cohort behaviour to see whether you are improving or deteriorating. 

 The level of customer feedback will be proportional to their investment. If a poor experience has cost them little in the way of time, inconvenience or money – they are unlikely to invest more time in complaining to the reseller or to you. In these situations it is essential to proactively seek feedback through tools such as the Channel Audit, site visits and monitoring of social media.  

 What Causes this?

The main cause of problems is mismatched expectations. The wrong product sold to the wrong company or person for the wrong reasons. Other causes can include logistics, packaging, instructions, ease of use, reality vs expectations, after-sales support.

 Here’s what to do:

 Understand the customer’s experience

 Provide on-line post sales support 

Create a Learning Model for your customers

What will be different?

Your investment in client onboarding will provide greater ROI than any marketing investments. It will generate repeat sales, referral sales and strengthen your brand. It will reduce returns and customer service expenses. It will lead to new product opportunities and happier (more effective) resellers.

What’s not to like?

The Moment of Truth  is the final episode in a series of posts on improving sales channel efficiency and flow. It follows Logistics

Written by

Andrew Penny

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