New research by Salesforce finds that 80 percent of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services, and a majority indicate their expectations for the companies they do business with are higher than ever.
Welcome to the experience economy — it’s an age where customers put a premium on timely, tailored touch points and value delivery throughout the entire relationship lifecycle. They expect the companies they do business with to understand and anticipate their needs at every turn, and they prefer omnichannel engagement that takes into account all of their past interactions across search, social and human-based exchanges.
That’s a tall order for our partners and for most businesses in general, whether B2C or B2B. But positive customer journeys lead to increased customer retention and renewal and ultimately have a multiplying impact on the bottom line. Studies by Bain & Company and the Harvard Business School have shown that a mere 5 percent increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-to-95 percent increase in profits.
With all of their competitive advantages, customer experience (CX) approaches by and large still fall short in meeting customer expectations as many companies continue to conduct business as usual. If you haven’t made CX a priority yet, here are a few simple ways to get started:
Leverage data insights
At Cisco, our view of the customer journey is rooted in data science. It’s built around analyzing key data that expose the who, what, when, where, and why about customers. To enrich the customer experience, we’ve learned the importance of reaching the right customer contact (the who), with the right message (the what), at the right time (the when), and doing so via that customer’s preferred method of communications (the how). Aggregating and asking the right data questions provides the context to carve out a persona, map a customer’s journey, predict needs, and craft the right message or offer to deliver value. If it sounds complicated, it is. But partner-focused programs such as Lifecycle Advantage make it easy, providing the means for you to create a frictionless customer experience.
Digitize using today’s CX toolsets
Automation is perhaps the most powerful way to manage and scale CX initiatives. Recently, Cisco invested in CloudCherry, which provides a CX platform that combines customer journey mapping, out-of-the-box integrations, and predictive analytics for total customer experience management. CloudCherry is one example of how a well-designed tool can enable teams to efficiently gather customer feedback, take immediate and effective action, and ultimately, drive organizational growth.
Instill a company-wide CX mindset
In the age of digital first, people hold the ultimate power, and everyone in your company drives CX regardless of role or function. Professionals with a strong CX mindset will have deeper business acumen, an understanding of dynamic sales methods and social selling, and possess a more strategic and visionary view of both internal business and external markets. They will also be personable, proactive and passionate when it comes to ensuring customer success. When hiring with CX in mind, look for influencers and relationship builders who can effectively leverage collaboration tools and complex data insights, with a particularly keen focus on business outcomes.
Today, a growing number of our partners around the globe are operating with a customer-first focus and they aren’t doing it alone. Like Cisco, they are taking advantage of data-driven programs, tools and platforms – and above all, the skill sets of their people – to transform for the experience economy.
For the benefit of your future success, along with the success of your customers, I encourage you to join the CX transformation. There’s simply no downside to getting started now.