When a vacation starts off bad, it can set the tone for the entire trip. Fortunately, that didn’t happen when my family kicked off our recent vacation in Paris. Because of my background at Cisco, I couldn’t help but notice that our first-rate experience was powered by an impressive combination of people, processes and technology.
Looking to enjoy a comfortable time together, we booked a multi-room apartment through one of the popular home sharing services. As we were waiting for our luggage at the airport, a text message arrived from the property manager with the lockbox passcode and a reminder about check-in instructions. Upon entering the apartment, it was immediately clear that the property looked exactly as it had been depicted online. And because we arrived hungry and a bit jet-lagged, we were pleasantly surprised to find fresh milk, coffee, cheese, bread and even a selection of the city’s best macarons in the kitchen.
Throughout our stay the property manager used a variety of digital touchpoints to engage with us to ensure our trip was going smoothly. She arranged to drop by to say hello, offering her tips for the best local restaurants and guided tours. From start to finish, our stay was exceptional and we’re already talking about returning. But next time I’ll either have to lay off the macarons a bit or double down on my vacation fitness routine. Dropping those extra pounds has been rough!
Although buying and selling in the B2B technology sector is vastly different from a one-week stay in the heart of Paris, the bottom-line goals are the same. As sellers, when we anticipate our customers’ needs, create frictionless processes and deliver ongoing value, we set the stage for a full lifecycle of opportunities.
All of us at Cisco understand that transforming your business, culture and processes to consistently put customers first isn’t always easy. But it is essential if you want your business to grow. Here are three strategies to keep in mind as you work to create an outstanding customer experience:
- Focus on help, not hype – Understand that buying habits are changing and as much as 80 percent of the buyer’s journey happens before ever establishing contact with a vendor. Make the resources and information that your customers seek self-service and on-demand through various digital channels (website, search, social, etc.) so that you can proactively address their needs and enhance their experience even before they reach out to you. When helping the customer becomes your primary goal, the motions you make in sales, marketing and support will better serve them, create more positive experiences and expedite time to value.
- Engage the customer in the channels they use – Across every stage of their lifecycle, your customers are utilizing a variety of channels for information. They are participating in online user groups and seeking information from Reddit, Spiceworks and other sources. They are also discussing strategies, challenges and solutions in their social networks. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 81 percent of the population now has social media profiles, with 58 percent accessing social networking sites on a daily basis. Wherever your customers are, it’s important to engage with them proactively in their preferred places and on their terms – not yours.
- Personalize and predict– Recent studies have found that delivering personalized experiences drives customer loyalty, with 82 percent of business buyers reporting that a company’s understanding of their needs and ability to execute personalized customer care influences loyalty.The use of digital tools and predictive analytics can not only help you determine what the customer wants now based on their activity and interactions, but also translate customer intelligence into smart recommendations about what the customer will need tomorrow. Today’s customers expect their experiences to be personalized and hyper-relevant to their unique needs and preferences, as well as convenient and easy to use.
How to Implement Customer Success at Scale
Recognizing that implementing these strategies at scale can take time and resources, Cisco offers Lifecycle Advantage to provide our partners with an automated way to nurture the customer journey, use digital touchpoint to deliver ongoing value, and provide hyper-relevant experiences that build loyalty and trust.
If you haven’t tried Lifecycle Advantage yet, I hope you’ll check it out. The reason is simple: It has been said that the potential lifetime value of a customer can be 10 times the value of the initial sale. With Lifecycle Advantage and other partner-focused tools, programs and resources, we are extending to our partners the investments Cisco has made in customer success — the rightcombination of people, processes and technology that will create customers for life.