Published 07. Feb. 2017
Ensuring Your Customer’s Success Leads to Your Own Success
IoT product development challenges existing R&D thinking and enables more impactful product development.
On the question of why is the term “customer experience” on everyone’s lips these days, Immeo’s Simon Aisen says it has to do with the big shift from company/product-centric orientation to customer-centric and then, “There’s a new meaning to the customer-centric organization, which is the constant focus on understanding each element in the customer’s interaction with the company, including all aspects of the decision-making process: from before, to during, and even after the actual encounter.”
Total Customer Experience Delivery
“Only a truly customer-centric company can deliver a total customer experience,” states the Business Development and Strategy Executive, “The true customer-centric organization understands the full journey and the individual choices and uses this information to deliver a personalized service and experience.”
Aided by new digital solutions, companies can collect and structure data, which will be their foundation for constantly improving customer value, “The more we interact, the better, more personal, and relevant the service becomes. This is the new reality, and the more you get to know your customer, the more they’ll be able to change or reinvent services and lead the disruption in the industry.”
He added that, “The customer-centric company must excel in all areas of the customer journey through all online and offline touchpoints,” and again reiterates that its foundation is in shared profiling of the customer based on data, “Sometimes this data guides an intelligent person to perform the right service and in other situations the data will enable systems with artificial intelligence to learn and deliver a personal digital service. The company’s ability to deliver a coherent and valuable customer experience starts with the understanding of the customer and this is challenging both the culture, system design and capabilities in many companies.”
Loyalty in the “Age of the Customer”
Today, customer loyalty has become a moving target that companies can’t take for granted, “Forrester forecasts that 65% of all customers have a high willingness and ability to shift spending. This means that excellent service is more of a hygiene factor, but not a winning formula. Social media and access to information have changed this. So, services must build upon a personalized approach, which can’t be arbitrary or depend on talking to the right person.”
Even if the customers are in charge, Aisen observed an interesting paradox, “Companies’ marketing and sales operation these days can be quite offensive for the sake of personalizaton and relevance. Look at how Amazon and Airbnb communicate to us. A few years ago, that would have been regarded as offensive and indiscreet. But now, people are putting up with them because they offer convenience and deliver accordingly.”
Brands can’t fall short of expectations these days or they’ll be crucified all over social media, “So, the new game is taking content and customer data seriously and using it across all your domains from product information to actual commerce. These are automated services, but it starts with the right customer-centric solution design. I believe this is applicable to both B2C and B2B.”
Keeping In Step with the Customer
Customers are always on a journey, and companies are forced to keep up. Where to start? Aisen shared three tips:
- Adapt to the Digital Native Mindset – Until very recently digital customer experience has wrongfully been mistaken with usability, that it’s just a part of it or merely a prerequisite for a good interaction and a matter of micro-design. I worked with a large C2O company on enhancing the capabilities of marketing to take ownership of their product releases, and early in the process, they learned they’ve to reorganize and build new capabilities to take ownership of a larger part of the digital value-chain. It’s a native digital mindset, which traditional businesses must learn. It’s also at the core of digital transformation and requires a strategic focus and C-level dedication.
- Be Your Own Customer – This is often a rich experience and a qualified eye-opener. Many companies have adopted the concept of seamless customer experience or more popular “omni-channel marketing.” But many fall short in understanding the capabilities required to deliver on an omni-channel strategy. That is very understandable as omni-channel will often call for new system design and redefinition of process and services. Every company must do a breakdown and prioritize the initiatives in a strategic roadmap balancing the value delivered with the complexity and required capabilities. The CMO is the natural owner of this process and marketing must examine its competencies and take digital charge. Forrester calls it the “CMO revolution” and the future CMO will have both digital and customer competencies. From a marketing perspective, digital transformation is truly “the best of times and worst times.”
- Try the MVP Approach – As consultants, our success is measured by our customer’s success. When we advise on customer experience we don’t start by talking about applications and solutions. We start by understanding our customer’s business and operations. This is centered around the customer experience and what makes customers select, return or deselect services or products. There can of course be multiple reasons for this, but mostly we can track a pattern and use this to design new systems and digital services. We must also adapt and be agile to changing conditions. Therefore, we always recommend an MVP approach to new digital solutions. MVP or minimum viable product builds on a perception of defining smaller projects, focusing on key value and building on successes. The focus is a continuous, agile stream of deliveries instead of one large program. This is the best approach to deliver the flexibility, scalability and foundation for the good customer experience.
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Chief Solution Executive, Symbio Finland