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Let’s face it, at some point or another many of us have made a purchasing or product decision purely based on our Customer Experience. And if you take a moment to consider why, most of the time the theme that surrounds negative purchasing behaviour is a lack of connectedness or a perceived indifference toward the customer.

Staggeringly, perceived indifference accounts for around 68% of lost customers! Organisations too often lack a combination of strategy, tools, success metrics and people to bring it all together to deliver the experience we are coming to expect. 

So here are the top 5 reasons why you need to put customers at the centre of your business.

1. Customer Experience is the key brand differentiator

I was recently on a Salesforce Webinar where a customer was describing the success they have had with Salesforce Service Cloud and how they had significantly improved their customers’ experience.  As the webinar commenced I was face to face with a remarkably staggering reason why you need to put customers in the centre of your business.

Gartner has reported that, as of now, Customer Experience has overtaken both Price and Product as the key brand differentiator.  

2. Customers want to find answers online

There is an old adage, “time is money”.  Whilst I think there is some truth to this statement, I think it just missed the mark - it should be “time is incredibly valuable”. Most of all, relationships within our communities are being held more and more at a premium, and so when it comes to interacting with a supplier, customers expect it to not only be speedy and efficient but it should inspire confidence in the brand overall.  

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to know that 72% of customers prefer to use a company’s website to find answers (Forrester) IVR’s, like the mainframe are quickly becoming something of the past. Creating tools to deliver a smooth online experience from the ground up  can be costly as well as time consuming to maintain and improve - this is where products like the Salesforce Community Cloud tied in with Salesforce Knowledge and Case Management really help organisations with innovative go-to-market tooling and resources to meet customer expectation. 

3. Customers will pay more for good corporate citizens

If customers aren’t at the centre of your business, you cannot possibly begin to think you also understand who your customers are and more importantly what they care about (I’m sorry folks but your trusty NPS survey is not going to cut it here).

If you are committed to empowering your organisation and customers alike, I have some good news for you! Nielsen have reported that 55% of consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact. 

So how do you go about this? Aggregating customer information, often from multiple sources, leads to a rich customer insight, as I mentioned above this goes way beyond customer surveys. Organisations must bring together CRM data alongside social data, IoT data, purchasing analytics etc. and most of all continue to engage with customers in order to understand what causes customers care about and how as an organisation you are able to react and cause social and environmental change as a result.  

It doesn’t finish there though, consider how you are then able to effectively communicate the positive impact that your organisation is having on the community. Opening an active dialogue with customers is another way you are able to bring customers to the center of your business. 

4. Customers buy more when it’s easy! 

To demonstrate my next point, we need to go on a little journey of our own. Many of us have an achilles heel (or maybe several) when it comes to buying things we don’t strictly need, but we do it time and time again, and the peculiar thing is we generally stick to the same supplier. 

Take me for example (and my wife will certainly confirm) I have a small addiction to amazon.com. No matter what we need around the house (or what we don’t need - hello automatic soap dispenser!) amazon.com has exactly what I “need”. Is it because Amazon always have the cheapest product? No.. not always. Is it because amazon have the best products .. No that’s not always true is it .. so what is it that keeps me coming back .. This I can explain in two words .. It’s easy!

The research backs up my experience time and time again. CEB Research say that “94% of customers who have a low-effort service experience will buy from that same company again”

5. Your customers are a social treasure chest!

And finally, what I think has to be one of the most compelling reasons why you should put customers in the center of your business … “When companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more money with the company.” (Bain & Company).

When I read this piece of research my jaw dropped to the floor! Often social media will be the first port of call for customers, so if you are able to provide quality real-time support this will leave you with not only happy customers but also brand evangelists in turn driving that all important brand differentiation.

The business benefits of engaging socially are insane, so it’s most certainly worth ensuring your own business is engaged socially from start to finish.

What will the future hold? 

Quite simply, organisations will need to adapt or they will fail. Organisations will need a single view of the customer deeply connected to numerous social and business platforms to build rich customer intelligence & insight.

Business leaders will move away from the notion of “what happened” more and more toward predictive intelligence leveraging advanced analytical techniques. Knowing what your customers wanted or even knowing what they want now is no longer enough .. You must now anticipate the needs of your customers in advance... and all with a smile on your customer's face! 

You'll need a robust CRM tool to store all these insights and interactions with your customers. Download a copy of The Complete CRM Handbook to get you started.