Customer Experience

In May, I visited Salesforce.com World Tour in London — an amazing event. Every Keynote presentation was about CX (Customer Experience)… In a nutshell — end to end control and conjoined execution, aimed at providing best customer experience is the way to win today. We’ve entered the age of the customer — an era when focusing on customers is more important than any other strategic imperative.

It’s not about Internet and Tech companies only, that’s why it is not about UX. It’s about CX. Businesses seem to be rediscovering a simple truth — Customer is the single reason for any business’ existence. Companies from various sectors such as retail, car manufacturing, home appliances, and even heavy industry wake up, increasingly wining or losing on the battleground of customer experience. Arguably, only companies that recognize that they are in ‘CX business’ are successful.

WHY?

  • Commoditization has stripped away existing sources of differentiation. Competitive barriers of the past — such as manufacturing strength, distribution power, and information mastery — can’t save you today. Traditional industry boundaries have dissolved. Automakers now find themselves competing not only with other automakers but also with services like Zipcar, which obviates the need for car ownership.
  • Customers have more power than ever. With online reviews, social media, and mobile access, it’s easy for your customers to know more about your products, services, competitors, and pricing than you do. Your business is transparent for the customers, whether you want it or not. As strategy guru Michael Porter said: “Where the buyer has full information about demand, actual market prices, and even supplier costs, this usually yields the buyer greater bargaining leverage.”

Convinced? SO, WHAT NOW? 

You can find plenty about business processes transformation, aligning them with the customer journey, and how data will boost your customer intimacy… But the truth is you have to start with PEOPLE.

The organization and its people have to change their practices and behavior, their attitudes and beliefs. Data driven marketing and decisions, process alignments and new customer communication channels are the tools, which help. However, they will render barren and useless, if mindset and behavior don’t change. All CX leaders understand that they can provide a great experience only through frontline employees. Such CX begins with workers who know about it, care about it, and are well positioned to deliver it.

That’s why it is so difficult and takes time —  behavior and mindset change takes a lot of investment on the leadership side and ROI is not ‘obvious’. It’s a decision of “true/false” type, not of positive or negative NPV. Everyone in the organization has to believe in a CX programme and to engage with it actively. Employees must know that leadership clearly understands the situation, has an organized way to move forward, and is serious about change.

We have entered the age of the customer. Relatively quickly, we’ll see businesses, which managed to adapt, rise and those who can’t — fall. Exciting times!

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Chasing the change

I remember the days, when being a sales rep I had to pop into the office every morning before taking off to my customers to get my call list for the day, file the visit report form previous day and check the deliveries. All on paper! We did not have mobile phones and did not use email to communicate with customers. Fax machine was the technological edge.

For the last 20-odd years one cannot imagine sales and marketing operation without a Route Optimization software, CRM, Content mass management and delivery systems, etc. The world of these solutions, however, is very different today from what it used to be a couple of decades ago.

Traditional way of building information technologies for sales and marketing – define your business strategy, map out your business process, buy/build a solution that suits your strategy and process. Repeat in 5-10 years. This does not hold water any longer.

The pace of market change has accelerated dramatically. We no longer talk years – in sales and marketing business definitions and processes change continuously. So should the solutions do too. Continue reading “Chasing the change”