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Building genuine relationships with your customers

28th February 2018

Industry analysts are always making predictions about how companies and entire industries are changing – Customer Experience is no exception. One of my favourite reports from recent years was published by Gartner in 2015. It was an attempt to describe the customer experience in 2020 and we are now closer to the date of the prediction than the publication date.

But this report stands out for me because I believe it was the first time I heard the analyst community talking about the need for major corporate restructuring because of CX. Finally a respected analyst company had acknowledged that customer service is not just about managing a contact centre and handling complaints.

The Gartner report suggested that all companies in all industries need a new approach to the interface between the brand and the customer. Instead of having internal teams, such as advertising, marketing, public relations, sales, and customer service, companies need to combine all these functions into a customer experience hub. All customer-facing activities need to be coordinated and managed together.

It sounds logical, but it’s three years on from that report and I have not seen many companies completely integrate all customer-facing activities. However, I believe that this may still become normal by 2020. Digital disruption is accelerating the rate of corporate change to the extent that many CEOs now clearly believe that they need to redefine the brand to customer interface or they will become irrelevant.

This will completely redefine how customer service is planned and delivered by most companies. Instead of focusing on a transactional relationship with the customer and measuring how quickly an agent can handle a customer problem we are entering an environment where brands need to develop a life-long relationship with customers. Measuring great customer outcomes will be more about how the customer feels at the end of an interaction, rather than how long it took to answer their question.

If this sounds like psychological nonsense, then think about a brand like Apple. Their laptops and phones are far more expensive than those offered by rivals. If customers are focused only on price, then Apple would not sell anything, let alone have long lines of people outside their stores when a new product hits the shelves. The way that Apple focuses on being a part of the customer’s lifestyle will be far more common because of this change in the brand to customer relationship.

Asking a supermarket for a recipe, engaging in a Sunday motorbike ride and running a half-marathon with your neighbours – These are all ways that brands are engaging with their customers today. This isn’t traditional customer service or marketing, it is a completely joined up approach to the customer relationship that embraces the idea proposed by Gartner three years ago.

Some brands can see how far the customer journey has changed, but many are still running marketing campaigns without even informing their customer service team. By 2020, I think we really will see the Gartner prediction come true – just watch. What would you think about Gartner Prediction? Leave a comment below, or get in touch on LinkedIn and let me know.

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Helen Murray
Article by: Helen Murray

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