Today’s customer expects consistent, personalized experiences regardless of how they interact with you. As physical and digital worlds continue to blur, brands need to deliver more connected experiences that drive loyalty. Musical instruments company Fender, for example, created a subscription-based video service to teach customers how to play the guitar after they realized the majority of customers quit playing within a year of purchase. And, Lululemon has started to monetize experience-based offerings in Chicago with in-store fitness classes and smoothie shops.
According to Gartner, more than 66% of CEOs say they plan to change their business model in the next three years to better align with customer expectations. Easier said than done, of course. But here are some insights we learned during Dreamforce ’19 that will help you build a single source of truth for your customer:
Reimagine the customer experience
It’s time to get creative in providing a meaningful customer experience. To get the ball rolling, ask yourself a couple of questions:
- What does customer-centricity mean to you and your brand?
- How do you put your customers at the center of everything you do?
Digital transformation starts and ends with the customer. To be successful in this digital world, you need to put the customer at the center of everything you do and consider how customers will engage with your brand down the road.
We sat down with Salesforce Director of Product Marketing Jody Farrar and Pacers Sports and Entertainment Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Todd Taylor to learn more about what the future of customer engagement looks like. Taylor explained his thoughts, “I think of it as ‘invited immersion.’ If we’ve earned the trust of our fans and our customers then I think they will invite us in and once we’re invited in, I think we can be immersed in every single aspect of their lives.”
Once you have an idea of what you want to do to “wow” your customers throughout their journey with your brand, it’s time to ask:
- How do you create a strategy that will work?
- What do you need to do to make that strategy come to life?
Think about your technology roadmap
Research from Gartner shows that a company’s ability to gain strategic clarity on its path to business model transformation is crucial to its success. Digital transformation presents new opportunities and challenges; companies that adjust their technology stack to keep up with the pace of innovation will thrive.
During Dreamforce, attendees had the chance to explore the newly announced Customer 360 Truth — a platform capability that unites all of your data points to build a single view of your customer. They learned more about the latest innovations brought to you by the Customer 360 Platform, like Voice, AI, and Blockchain, and how those innovations can help companies deliver unique customer experiences across multiple touchpoints.
“We want to make it possible for every person in this room to not only start their digital transformation but finish it,” said Bret Taylor when explaining to attendees how to drive digital transformation with the Customer 360 Platform. He encouraged everyone to think about their technology roadmap and the future of customer engagement.
In the Platform Keynote, we heard from Chief Technology Officer of Caesars Entertainment Salil Kulkarni about how Caesars adopted an innovative technology stack to make every customer feel like a VIP. Kulkarni explained, “We not only anticipate their needs, we anticipate their desires.” He continued, “With the Customer 360 Platform, we can leverage it to create the right offer to the right customer at the right time to create those memorable experiences.”
Bret wondered how they think about the customer experience vs. the employee experience when it comes to their technology strategy. “Customer expectations are constantly changing and employees are no different,” Kulkarni said. “Employees are used to using the best technology outside of their home, so they should be doing that inside of the workplace and we aim to make those employees happy.”
So, how do you go about creating that full-circle experience for your business?
Empower your customers and employees
To be successful with your digital transformation you need to empower both your employees and customers.
“If we take care of our employees, they will take care of our customers,” explained Southwest Airlines Vice President of Customer Support and Services James Ashworth during a discussion about the new age of human-centric service. He continued to discuss how Southwest Airlines approaches putting the customer at the center of their business, “It’s about humans delivering service to humans.”
But, as our Vice President of Service Cloud Product Marketing Mark Abramowitz said, doing that at scale is hard because “we as customers don’t make it easy on businesses. We have all these different parts of our identity.” For example, most of us have multiple email addresses and phone numbers, and we use multiple social media platforms. But, every time we reach out to a business, we expect them to know exactly who we are and have the full picture of who we are, which is challenging for service representatives because they only know the piece that’s in their service console.
He dove into the importance of having a central location for all of your customers’ data so every service agent can have a unified view of every customer they interact with throughout the day. Customer 360 Data Manager is a set of data and identity services (part of Customer 360 Truth) that helps you create that single source of truth for your customer across a number of teams, from marketing and commerce to sales and service. So, when your customer calls your business to resolve an issue, your service agent has the full view of everything they need to help that customer in one place, which will reduce resolution time and ensure a happy customer.
But, there’s one more thing you need to keep in mind to ensure you provide that full-circle experience.
Fuel collaboration between teams
To ensure your customer has a unified experience, you need to align your teams. If your marketing, service, commerce, IT, and sales teams work in silos, your customer can tell.
For example, have you ever purchased shoes from a brand you love only to receive an email promoting a sale for the same shoes a week later? Makes you love that brand a little less, doesn’t it? This is the type of disconnected experience that happens when commerce and marketing work in silos. When you use technology that connects all of your customer data, you fuel collaboration between teams so those disjointed customer experiences don’t happen.
We know the majority of companies will evolve their business models in the next three years. To thrive, not just survive, now is the time to reimagine the customer experience, develop a strategic technology roadmap, empower customers and employees with the tools they need to be successful, and fuel collaboration between teams. I’ll leave you with this, when you put the customer at the heart of everything you do, you will triumph.
Start creating a cohesive customer experience today. Download the Customer 360 Playbook to help you get your strategy off the ground.