Community Week Post by Natasha Gabriel

Sigh … yes … BIG sigh.

I have had quite an interesting experience with a vendor — [note I am being generous by using the adjective interesting]. Despite the fact that we live in this hyper-service economy, this FAIL made pause and realize how far we have to go as marketers!  An article from the Temkin Group indicated that “the engagement phase is a critical phase in the customer lifecycle that very often gets missed.”   I’m inclined to agree. Here is what happened:

A few weeks ago I called XYZ Corporation to see if their service offerings could meet my needs. Their content marketing effort had hooked me with precision — I was an “inbound lead” and had already received a lot of good information from their website, newsletter and podcast that had turned me into a hot sales lead — and now I needed to make that personal call.

The sales representative was knowledgeable and even suggested an additional product as part of the package.  I bought into the up-selll — good for him! For about two weeks we went back and forth on details as I had a lot of questions and needed to pull other individuals into the decision process.  And most important, we needed a specific product change which he assured us was very simple and would be done promptly.  Assured that we were getting an excellent deal we signed the contract.  This seemed like a the perfect, seamless marketing and sales effort. But then nothing happened.  There was silence: crickets, crickets, crickets…

The ultimate sales FAIL

“What you do to get me, you need to do to keep me,” is that too much to ask?  I had to chase these people down to find out when our solution would be complete and the go live date. They were completely unresponsive. To add insult to injury, we were told that the changes we were promised would not happen, as service was pushing back on sales. Huh?

Unfortunately many buyers have this same experience. Too many companies focus on the on the point of sale as the key milestone, doing everything they can to close a sale. This is a flawed mindset. Instead of just trying to get money from customers, companies need to focus on getting customers satisfied with their purchase.  A big part of this is the disconnect between sales and fulfillment. Account information and key sales notes stay with the sales representative. Many times too, sales representatives make decisions and promises with limited or incomplete information.

Unfortunately our account information had not traveled from sales to fulfillment.  Development informed Mr. Salesman that the change he thought was so easy, now involved more moving pieces and he would have to renege on his deal!  Why did he not have this information before we signed the contract? It’s not enough for sales and customer service agents to provide the right information at the the right steps in the sales process — they also need to have quick access to knowledge experts to RESPOND to those pesky curve balls that customers like myself come up with.

Damage control is costly

Once an experience is damaged “It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience” and all the work the sales team placed in winning the account is lost.  Mr. Salesman offered me an additional discount, and even as a last resort offered it to me FREE!  Can you see how a great content marketing achievement without excellent fulfillment is actually COSTING them money!  Regrettably, “free” without the requested changes still does nothing for me.

I still have a bad taste in my mouth from the entire experience as I wait, hoping for a resolution.  How are you connecting content marketing to the fulfillment process to make sure something like this never happens to your customers?

Natasha Gabriel was probably one of the first 10 readers of {grow} and is a professional marketer with an unmatched energy, initiative & tenacity balanced with creativity and attention to detail.

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