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In a very detailed report on the state of the connected customer that gathered information from over 7,000 survey respondents. The research is over a year old now so some detailed sections may have moved on, but the broad conclusion is still valid.
The Salesforce research focused on how increasing customer demands are changing the way that companies need to do business. New technology has put the customer even more firmly in the driving seat and companies that do not respond to connected customers are much more likely to sink rather than swim. The six broad conclusions from the research are:
1. Put customers at the centre of your business: this is the major difference between hot new startups and tired incumbent companies. When you start fresh on designing how a company should work, you place the needs of the customer at the core of every process. Even if your business has been around for hundreds of years, think how you can redesign the process flow to encourage this.
2. Embrace the culture of immediacy: you need to be mobile-first and all those old expectations on how long a customer should wait (we will reply to your email within 24 hours) need to be discarded. You need to respond now.
3. Get smart about personalisation: customers want to be treated like humans, not automatons. They are all different and your data tell you exactly how they are different. Use the data and ensure your service is personalised.
4. Reinvent the sales process: companies using a sales pitch approach will ultimately fail. Customers today expect a much more problem-solving approach to sales. The sales team has to be knowledgeable and helpful – not pushy.
5. Lead with instant, omni-channel, and personal customer service: just make life easy for your customers and they will return. Don’t bounce them from one channel to another unless there are good reasons to do so and the data follows the customer. Demonstrate that you know your customer.
6. Don’t fear disruption – be a disruptor: we are only just entering a connected world, but already we can see some of the fundamental changes. Who would have believed you could order more laundry liquid just by asking a virtual helper to add some to your shopping list? Don’t fear change, seek out the opportunities it presents.
All these points are valid, however I would add a note of caution. Most executives know they need to address the connected customer and most don’t know exactly what to do because it is a moving target. The six research conclusions outlined here are a good summary of what needs to change to achieve success, but these bullets don’t capture just how much your organisation may need to change to accommodate these changes. This is serious – your entire business model may even need to change.
The real question is: what will happen to my company if we do not address the connected customer? If phones do ever go away, it will be because the functionality they have at present can be offered by other wearable devices – we are not going back to a time when customers were not connected. Embrace the culture of immediacy and start planning a connected customer strategy now. Let me know what you think about if companies don’t embrace the culture of immediacy by leaving a comment here or get in touch directly via my Linkedin.
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