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Phil Hunt talks customer-centricity at The Business of Events conference

Succeed by seeing things as the customer, says sales expert

Posted on May 6th, 2019 in Customer-Centricity, Event News, Experience Economy

The stereotype of a salesperson generally isn’t a positive one, but that’s because the standard salesperson generally isn’t a good one.

In his talk at 2019’s The Business of Events conference, Phil Hunt, director of Hunt Consultants, said that the path to improving impressions and sales is an easy one – focus on what the customer actually wants.

Once we truly listen to what the customer wants, it makes it much easier to provide them with something that not only meets their expectations, but something that goes over and above. By doing that, we can win not only a customer, but a lifelong advocate for our business.

Phil said, “I work in corporate land. It is a never-ending battle to stop people pushing products and actually get them to listen to the customer and to get them to create value. ”

“We all get value from what we buy, hopefully. You might get value simply out of the product or the service that you buy. It doesn’t involve lots of interaction, that’s the end of the transaction. ”

“It’s when the customer gets value that is exceeding the intrinsic nature of the product or service – that’s when we’re starting to turn the customer into somebody who’s very loyal who’s interested in doing business with us.”

The benefit for businesses of being customer-centric

It may sound like there’s an obvious benefit to making the customer the focus of your business model – you make more money. But research has shown that businesses that listen to customers receive many other benefits.

The first is innovation. By truly understanding what your customers want, you can adapt your offerings – whether that’s an event, a service or a product – to keep in step with the market. This not only helps you increase the life of your customers, but it also keeps staff happier, people stay longer and it’s easier for your business to grow.

Phil said, “As a basic premise to that, an organisation that is customer-centric has a set of shared beliefs and investment in innovations that are based on the perception of the organisation through the eyes of the customer.”

General concepts that all customers want

While needs for an event or product may change from person to person, there are ways to make your business stand out in a crowded marketplace simply by the way you treat them.

Phil’s research has shown that customers want four basic things: respect, responsibility, simplicity and solution. The steps to achieve this can be small – like making sure staff members look customers in the eye – but are often neglected.

Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes can help you identify areas that business is lacking and ways that you can improve. A good way to do this is to reach out to people – after you hold an event, conduct polls and surveys to see what people remembered, and whether they loved or hated what they experienced.

Phil said, “We tend to remember the worst and the best of things. We are most comfortable when things are certain and we are most alive when things are not comfortable. The defining moments are peaks, pits and transitions.”

“What are contemporary companies doing around those spaces? The first concept is elevation. Build peaks. Create truly memorable experiences; create intensity, excitement and engagement.”

As an example of exceeding expectations in regards to engagement, Phil spoke about the way the Sydney Opera House was using the Backstage section of its website, in particular its Seconds to Stage web series that showed the nerves and pre-show rituals of international artists in the minutes before their shows started.

By going the extra mile to provide this sort of content for its members and the fans of the bands, the Sydney Opera House is building its relationship with past and potential customers.

Improving your sales culture

While the idea of having the customer at your core is becoming a bit of boardroom jargon, it’s important that you take it seriously. Phil recalled a stat that said only 47% of proposals presented to clients actually understood the client’s need – more than half missed the mark completely.

So how do you create an authentic customer-focussed culture? Phil said, “Culture is based on shared beliefs, built on an understanding your organisation through the eyes of the customer. It’s the understanding of your organisation through their eyes that establishes the lens to think about building this culture. ”

“To grow customer loyalty, organisations must understand and evolve the customer experience. ”

“Adaptability and innovation is basically the new ‘business as usual’ when it comes to building customer experience because it’s such a competitive and technology driven world.”

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