Archives For Customer Experience

We have just returned from a bit of a whirlwind week of events: the trio of CRM Evolution/SpeechTek/Customer Service Experience shows in Washington D.C. and thecrossrdGartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit in London. Throughout the week, we heard a LOT of insightful and innovative ideas from analysts, practitioners and other industry experts around the present and future of customer engagement and customer relationship management in general.

One item that stuck out in my mind was Gartner analyst Ed Thompson’s keynote, which focused on the “defining moments” that shape our personal lives as well as the world around us. Note, these are very different than “moments of truth,” those small, but far more frequent interaction points that can make or break your relationships with customers. Defining moments, as Thompson explains, are far more infrequent, think of a major breakthrough such as the market availability of the first digital camera (or even the first camera phone), and have far more profound and lasting impacts.

These moments affect not just the way individuals see the world, but also shape the way businesses (and really, the world in general) operate.

When I look at the industry in which SugarCRM operates, that of front office software, it is easy to see several defining moments. These monumental shifts have been both in the way the customer relationship has evolved, and also about the nature of the technology we create and use in business. And of course, these two are inextricably linked.

A few examples of defining moments that have shaped CRM: the introduction of email into the customer relationship, the emergence of SaaS delivery of apps (and the eventual evolution into cloud software), the iPhone making mobile CRM apps a must-have, Facebook and Twitter becoming de-facto customer conversation channels, etc.

Looking at these defining moments, a few observations become clear. One, the pace and breadth of defining moments in our world is increasing, due mainly to the insanely rapid pace of technology innovation. Second, those that refuse or simply fail to take advantage of the changes pushed forward from these moments do so at their own peril.

We talk a lot about “disruption” and “digital transformation” – but in the light of defining moments these should not be considered single “projects” or a one-time transformation endeavor. Rather, the pace of innovation and the onslaught of more customer channels, data points, and expectations means that businesses must be in a constant state of development, with total openness to change. Sure, change is hard, but you need to aggressively embrace new business models.

One great example is SugarCRM customer CitySprint (who just happened to co-present their transformation story on stage at the Gartner event). While CitySprint is a leader in its space as a last mile delivery and logistics provider in the UK, they saw the disruption curve coming – from new digital technologies like Uber, Amazon Prime, etc. Rather than risk getting left behind, CitySprint is incubating its own startup to shift its business from simple delivery into providing technology, solutions and tools for businesses across the UK to create more effective customer experiences. (CitySprint will be telling more about this story at SugarCon in June FYI.)

So, no matter what your industry, one thing is clear: disruption is coming in some form or another. And, it is going to keep coming. Those who embrace the pace of change and respond accordingly will win. Those who do not will face steeper and steeper uphill climbs in an increasingly competitive marketplace. On which side of this equation would you rather be?

The goal of providing the best possible experience for customers forms the foundation of business transformation at successful companies, according to a recent Forrester survey.

The goal of the survey, conducted in March 2016 by Forrester on behalf of SugarCRM and our friends at Squiz, was to determine how organizations with a mature digital strategy define and manage their “digital business transformation,” and how these firms are tackling the organizational and cultural challenges presented by business transformation.

For mature businesses, the top digital transformation drivers focus on improving the customer’s experience, increasing the speed of innovation, and improving time to market. In contrast, the drivers for less mature businesses focus mainly on profitability improvements and cost reduction. More than three-quarters (77%) of mature digital firms have clearly defined the experience they intend to create for their customers, demonstrating the benefits of having a strong customer focus.

More Key Findings

  • Just 11% of companies surveyed assessed their digital strategy as “excellent.”
  • The CEO is the executive who sets the overall digital vision and strategy for 41% of organizations with a mature digital strategy.
  • 43% of firms with a mature digital strategy see competing departments wanting to own digital as the most significant barrier to effective transformation in their organization.
  • 94% of mature businesses plan to address the threat of digital disruption through transforming systems and processes to be more agile in the digital world.

What Do These Results Mean

Only a comprehensive digital business transformation can create an organization that flexes to address customers’ heightened expectations. The study found that businesses with mature digital strategies tend to look at digital holistically and start their digital transformation journey with a clearly defined digital vision.

To win in the age of the customer, digital businesses understand that they need to be customer-obsessed. According to Forrester, success means investing in constantly evolving customer experiences and understanding that digital technologies have become fundamental to deliver delightful experiences to the customer. The days of treating customers as segments and cohorts are coming to an end. Companies need to think in terms of individualized experiences that organize and prioritize functionality and content around customers’ individual needs and behaviors.

As customers now use digital technologies and experiences as a part of their daily lives for nearly every purchasing decision, their expectations of what constitutes a high quality customer experience are much higher. A modern CRM platform will drive successful business transformation because it is a central hub for information about customers that enables personalized interactions and brand loyalty throughout the entire customer journey.

Methodology

In this study, Forrester conducted an online survey of 410 IT and business decision-makers involved with digital strategy and initiatives. Respondents were from enterprise organizations in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Singapore, the UK, and the US and from financial services and insurance, government, higher education, media and publishing, and retail industries

You can access the full Forrester report here.

Our i2i workshop series follows SugarCRM’s recent announcement about a “reimagined” vision of CRM, one that fuses Customer Journey Mapping with CRM.

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As today’s marketplace becomes more and more competitive, it becomes harder and harder to compete based on the old standards: price and product features. Customers today simply have more choices, and are more knowledgeable than ever thanks to the web and social media. The best way to stand out in business today is by offering a superior experience for every prospect and customer.

But, how can you ensure you are providing the best possible customer experience? One method is to align your internal business operations with the typical lifecycle of your customers. This can be done through what is called a “customer journey exercise.”

By mapping the customer journey, any organization can identify how a customer typically goes about making a purchase decision with the company. And, these exercises can help identify internal gaps where the organization is not meeting the expectations of the customer. But how do you turn your customer journey map into the actions that will transform your business?

Join us on February 18th for an informative webinar from SugarCRM and Phil Winters, the head of CIAgenda and a “Customer Perspective Champion,” and “Data Whisperer” with decades of experience helping hundreds of organizations better align their operations with the customers’ perspective in mind.

In this webinar, Phil and SugarCRM Vice President of Product Marketing Karen Hsu will outline the reasons why mapping the customer journey can have a huge impact, illustrate some basic steps to get started, and provide some success stories of organizations which have effectively mapped their customers’ typical journeys.

If your organization has customers, and it has yet to undergo a customer journey exercise – don’t miss this opportunity to learn from the experts! To join the webinar, simply click HERE to register.

By Clint Oram, Co-founder and CTO at SugarCRM

Think you know who in your organization is part of your customer service team? Think again. The fact is that almost every employee is potentially customer facing in today’s social era, compliments of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, to name a few.

Fifteen years ago the customer relationship management dynamic was entirely different and much more finite. Back then employees in just a handful of departments engaged with customers through traditional channels — email, phone, chat or face to face. But the landscape evolved and direct lines of communication to customers have been extended to everyone in an organization — even back-office or “invisible” employees — via social channels. (Here at SugarCRM, for example, several of our engineers might blog for us, and these blogs are read and commented on by our customers.) This practice is not unique to SugarCRM. Many companies encourage their employees to responsibly engage with customers via Google+, Twitter or other social channels.

Unfettered access to a range of employees is a major benefit to customers who want to consocial-customer-care-1nect with company representatives apart from those in the marketing, sales or customer service departments. Today’s customers want to make a human connection with “regular people,” and know, like and trust those they do business with. Social media facilitates this type of connection. But the challenge is ensuring customer engagement is consistent and effective across the company regardless of which communication channel is used. It’s also important to provide value to the customer in each interaction, so having critical, up-to-date customer information at hand is critical throughout the customer journey.

In a recent article on ZDNet, best-selling author, Paul Greenberg, argues that customer’s voices, amplified by social media these days, makes them feel entitled to an amazing customer experience at the speed of light and woe to companies that don’t give it to them. He also goes on to say that if companies want to provide an amazing experience, they really need to understand, and be in close contact with, their customers. They need to be engaged with their customers. What a concept!

So, how do you stay ahead of this challenge and create a customer-centric culture at your company? Here’s a start:

  • Choose a CRM system that extends across the organization to all employees. With traditional CRM systems, we see that they are typically relegated to users in marketing, sales and support. If CRM was extended to everyone in the organization, imagine the customer relationships that could be nurtured and imagine the level of customer satisfaction that could be achieved.
  • Pick a CRM that is social-ready with an advanced user experience. Sugar helps you manage all social interactions with collaboration tools and contextual intelligence within a single dashboard.  This turns every individual into a customer expert by uniquely personalizing their interactions, creating a 360-degree customer view and driving true customer loyalty.
  • Recognize that great customer service is not solved by technology, but rather supported by it. Truly becoming customer-centric may require significant cultural changes inside an organization. Invest in this initiative. By getting every potential customer-facing employee to understand the value that they bring to the organization as a brand ambassador, and equipping them with the tools and information to facilitate superior customer experiences, the results will be overwhelmingly positive.

In our hyper-connected world, it’s imperative that all employees have the same access to customer information to deliver a consistent experience and avoid appearing fragmented and siloed. In essence, all employees can/should evolve into “customer experts.” This is how you ensure customer experience integrity is maintained in the 21st century.

This mission has guided SugarCRM throughout its decade-long history — well before the social media wave hit our shores. The company was, after all, founded on the idea that customer relationship management is more than marketing, sales or customer support automation. We have always inherently championed the individual, and emphasized that each customer-facing employee (these days that means everyone with a Twitter handle or Facebook profile) should be empowered to create extraordinary customer relationships.

As concepts like social media, mobile and big data add more and more information into the marketing mix, it is important for sales and marketing Summit Graphicprofessionals to embrace the concepts behind data-driven marketing. In today’s world, those taking advantage of the mountains of information available around our customers are the ones who will not only survive, but thrive and bat the competition.

To help marketers gain more insight around data-driven marketing, AgileOne is holding a FREE online conference all day on May 9th. As part of the event, SugarCRM co-founder and CTO Clint Oram will be speaking about how SugarCRM allows its users to delight today’s social customer.

The entire online conference is filled with great presenters and topics. Click here to register for free and join the conversation!

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Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. This week’s roundup will focus on the most important aspect of your business: the customer, and how to create and maintain a culture that puts them at the center of your business. We’re hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

Businesses are beginning to understand that becoming customer-centric can enable their employees to deliver an exceptional and consistent customer experience. In today’s ever-changing landscape of technology, consumers have nearly an infinite amount of channels they can use to reach you for service and support.

Customers are increasingly frustrated with the level of services they experience: 91% because they have to contact a company multiple times for the same reason, 90% by being put on hold for a long time, and 89% by having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives. (Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey)

Do you have a plan in place to make this transformation? The following articles offer a starting point to jumpstart your journey to becoming a customer-centric organization.

Source: Forrester

Source: Forrester

5 Steps To Create And Sustain Customer-Centric Culture
Forrester’s Sam Stern outlines in 5 steps how to create and sustain a customer-centric culture from securing executive buy-in to embedding customer-centric principles throughout the organization. This is an abridged version of Stern’s full report on how companies can transform their cultures to be customer-centric.
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Six Ways to Become Competitively Customer-Centric in 2014
As today’s marketplace continues to evolve, business owners are conscious of the newfound expectations customers have set out for them. “Companies that are able to place the customer at the center of their strategies will undoubtedly beat out the competition.” – Greg Lloyd
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The Evolution of Customer Service: Adapt and Adopt or be Left Behind
Customer service expert and SugarCon Keynote Speaker Shep Hyken takes you through the evolutional journey of customer service and support from his own experience. Catch him at this year’s SugarCon!
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We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of our Weekly CRM Roundup. You’re equipped to ignite your organization to extraordinary customer experiences.Got ideas for other great articles and topics we should include in future CRM Roundup posts? Let us know in the comments below!