This week we feature an article from Geoff Webb, the Vice President of Products at PROS. He explains the importance of building a solid, human relationship with your customers in the digital world. There are no transactions. Not anymore. Two hundred years ago, buyers purchased all types of items – food, clothing, furniture – from […]
This week we feature an article from Geoff Webb, the Vice President of Products at PROS. He explains the importance of building a solid, human relationship with your customers in the digital world.
There are no transactions. Not anymore.
Two hundred years ago, buyers purchased all types of items – food, clothing, furniture – from vendors they knew and trusted. Then along came chain stores, the supermarket, and the internet. Suddenly people were buying from companies they never met – strangers! – without giving it a second thought.
But change is inevitable and buying behavior changed once more.
Perversely, the very technology that drove the “impersonalization” of transactions has now brought us full circle. Buyers no longer accept the faceless transaction across the internet. Rather, the process of buying digitally has created a demand for a new kind of relationship between buyer and seller, one predicated on deeper understanding, far greater personalization of offers, and exceptional customer experience. And I do mean ‘exceptional’.
As businesses have adopted digital selling channels, forced by a move away from traditional, face-to-face selling modes, buyers have responded by wanting to take control of the engagement, flexing their own digital muscles to move between vendors, to self-educate, and to demand better service at every step. Without a traditional sales exec to manage the relationship, this leaves many businesses suddenly feeling exposed and unready for a buyer who wants to reach into the very heart of their business.
Instead of a single point of contact, buyers now expect to receive consistent, exceptional service from the entire business, at every stage, regardless of how they are engaging. Want to browse the entire inventory online? It better be there. Want to purchase from an ecommerce portal, change your mind and call a sales exec? It better be seamless. Need someone to help you make a complex purchase decision? Get that expert online, stat! Want to know exactly how to squeeze the utmost value from your purchase today? Where’s that support manager?
It’s time for every part of your business to align and be ready, because no purchase is just a transaction anymore. Every interaction is a step in a dance, a note in a symphony, and if you want the music to go on, your business needs to be playing in perfect harmony. To push the metaphor just a little further, your conductor is the customer and every part of the orchestra better know their part.
The good news is that for those businesses that are able to fully align and show value for customers at every interaction, the rewards will be huge. Each exchange with a customer builds deeper understanding of their needs, and every success (or well-managed failure) builds trust that the next exchange will be even better.
This is a self-reinforcing loop of closer understanding, better service, and deeper commitment from buyers. And most importantly, it’s achievable.
It’s achievable as businesses build data and services that span every part of their business. Sharing insight and understanding so that every part of the business that touches customers has a clear view of what the customer needs – to then be able to add value by listening, learning, and feeding insight back into that common view.
It’s achievable because aligning the pressure to digitally transform with the need to serve customers better can unlock market-disruptive potential in technology that’s available off-the-shelf (or at least off-the-cloud) when coupled with a genuine, top-down desire to deliver the best customer experience.
Most importantly, it’s achievable because businesses are doing it today – building a common data lake of customer engagements and behaviors, applying the analytic power of AI to parse the raw information to identify opportunities for improvement that others may miss. And then delivering that insight across the business, every time, to continually improve every interaction.
The bar is high, and every good interaction that your customers have, every exceptional moment of service, simply sets the bar higher. The key to unlocking entire markets is simply this: make sure you’re the business who is setting the bar for everyone else.
The world of transactions is dead. Long live the world of the customer.
Geoff Webb is the Vice President of Products at PROS, where he works with technology, marketing, and go-to-market teams. He helps customers accelerate and optimize their digital transformation strategy, building business operations around a core of A.I. and machine learning-powered business and revenue optimization solutions.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
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