Great customer engagement means everybody wins

Fallon Cryer, Marketing Director, Microsoft Dynamics Asia

It’s been customary to talk about the shift in customer power that technology has brought as a win-lose game – customers won and they took the game online.

By now it is clear to most Australian organisations that the way people buy has fundamentally changed. The so-called customer revolution means we live in a world where customers (not sales people) are now the experts – proactively approaching businesses for help in servicing their needs. With a constant connection to the internet, customers are universally connected via their mobile device, plugged into their social network and doing their own research to solve their problems.

Therefore, it’s no surprise to find that customers are 70 percent (or more) down a sales cycle before they actually make contact with the company that they are researching, 81 percent of shoppers research online before setting foot in a store and customers spend an average of 79 days conducting online research before buying.

In a white paper entitled “Buyer 2.0 and Solution Selling”, global sales performance improvement firm, Sales Performance International (SPI), suggests that today 80 percent of buyers initiate first contact with their prospective supplier, and when they do, they have usually already formed a “hypothesis”.1

So what can we do? When customers don’t need to wait for you before they form an opinion, where they don’t need to come to your website or store, or care about anything you’re saying. How do you engage, how do you influence and how can you be successful?

In his webinar about the 21st century customer, CRM expert Paul Greenberg shares that the current customer communicates over such a wide range of channels, so choosing to communicate with them via a single touch point is essentially ineffective.

bnr-msMktg-PGrnbrg1-OdWhat is most encouraging is that Greenberg points out that this shift doesn’t have to be a win-lose proposition. While the customer has gained knowledge, technology also offers the opportunity for companies to provide more positive customer engagement. It can be confronting for organisations to realise that through the use of social media and mobile, customers can find value faster than you can offer it. But as companies react to this change in consumer behaviour and the power of the individual voice in social media, it is no surprise that they are now focusing their efforts on finding ways to deliver great customer experiences across all mediums. Companies who know how and when they best fit into their customers’ lives will find success.

Greenberg himself gives a great example of a company that fits into his life without the requisite of delight: Not an item generally associated with delight, this company captured Greenberg’s business through a series of simple reminders tied to his order – focusing on delivering value that matters is what makes the difference.

Through the use of CRM, the business can automate the timeline for each potential re-order to gently nudge continued purchase. Although not flashy, knows its place in a customer’s life and serves the role perfectly. Satisfying their business objectives, and the needs of the customer. A truly win-win proposition.

As author Geoffrey Moore has said, “the planet is wiring itself a new nervous system. If your organisation is not linked into this nervous system, you will be hard pressed to participate in the planet’s future”.

Will you be left behind, or take the opportunity to become a leader in the new world? Start by watching the entire webinar on demand.

1 “Buyer 2.0 and Solution Selling” – A Sales Performance International white paper, 2013

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