The Last Mile of Customer Service
The phrase “The Last Mile” is used many places in business to describe the final step between a product or service offering and the consumer. Each sales channel will have its unique last mile and seeing it as a unique step or set of steps is important. Marketing organizations work very hard drive consumer demand to this final connection between their services and products in hopes of sales, yet ultimately some are lost and the sale is not realized. Understanding the last mile is vital to reaching your end consumer and managing the experience your buyer has in this final step will help improve your close rate. The last mile is a vital step that needs to be executed precisely to close a sale each and every time a customer attempts to buy from you.
The appearance of the last mile is a unique picture for every product and service. The term is commonly used to describe utilities and the reach to the end consumer. The power plant produces the electricity but it cannot be sold if the connection to your house does not work. The same is true for manufactured products coming thousands of miles to reach a store shelf; but it is the final mile to your home that results in the sale. An accountant spends hours preparing your tax return but the final step of reviewing and discussing the results builds the relationship that consummates the sale. Each and every product or service has a vital last step that must be completed for a sale to take place, look at the process of your sales channel and focus on the last mile.
Driving sales to the last mile of the sales process is very important and the large focus of many marketing organizations. It is impossible to have sales in the last mile if prospects never start the first steps of the sales process. Intuitively this makes sense so the focus of a large part of marketing efforts is on driving demand, leads, sales calls, brand awareness, etc, all of which push prospects through the sales channel headed for the last mile. Marketing efforts engage potential customers and begin the sales process but if the last mile of the process is not measured and the potential client is not engaged as they were at the beginning of the process, sales will be lost. The visibility into lost sales is apparent in abandoned online shopping carts, empty handed customers leaving retail stores, incomplete mortgage applications, and test drive that did not buy. Enormous efforts are put into getting the prospect to the car dealership lot, viewing an online store, sitting at the lawyer’s office, having a quote for a home repair and yet the sale is not completed. If the sale is never completed then the company never earned the revenue which is the only way to gain profit. Reducing the number of lost sales that occur in the last mile is like picking the low hanging fruit on your way to increasing revenue and profit.
Understanding the pieces and steps that comprise the customer experience during the last mile of your sales process is what will drive your sales. Is the website difficult to navigate, the sales order form to archaic, the salesperson leaves vital questions unanswered, or maybe inventory is inadequate. Become your prospect and feel each element of the experience as they see it to fully understand each bump, turn, and ripple in the pavement of the last mile of your sales process. This will give you great insight to your current sales volume, and ways to increase your sales by closing the lost sales. By managing the customer experience in the last mile, the yield from your existing marketing efforts will increase by closing more prospects that are already in your sales channel.
The success you have improving your last mile to become a more welcoming, customer friendly, experience will be evident in your increased closing rate and increased sales. As your prospects move through your sales channel, your existing marketing efforts will yield higher returns because you have improved the final step when a prospect decides to buy or not to buy. The understanding of the motivators and experience they have moving into this final step will help you close these prospects and turn them into paying clients.