Soccer team in a huddle

The Customer Revolution: Fight For Your Right To Party

October 17, 2014 by Jamie Anderson

As the founder of Amazon.com and a true pioneer in the e-commerce space, it’s safe to say that Jeff Bezos knows a thing or two about the customer experience.

Originally launching in 1995 as an online shopping site where Bezos sold books due to the worldwide love and interest in literature, 19 years later the company is valued at over $9 billion and has acquired dozens of other companies to help the retail giant grow and expand its footprint. According to Quantcast.com, Amazon serves over 80 million unique visitors per month – that’s approximately 960 million customers each year.

So, if Bezos, the CEO if the world’s largest online retailer, who has obviously served quite a few customers during his tenure, compares the customer experience to a party, then maybe we should all consider using this philosophy.

To create the customer experience party, the customer becomes the guest, the company becomes the host, and the overall experience should be a joyous occasion.

With that perspective in mind, imagine thinking about customers as guests – not just data, conversions, or dollar signs? Instead, think of customers as people who were joyfully invited to the party, and when they RSVP’d with a “yes,” their expectation was that the party was going to be a good time.

The company is then the host, and it’s the host’s job to create that “good time.” The host, or company, must provide an optimal experience and ensure guests are having the best time ever. The party has to be all-around great with the experience really beginning all the way at the beginning – at the invite – and ending far beyond when the product goes home with the customer at the end of the night (or does it ever really end?).

A 2013 Global Contact Center survey from Deloitte showed that 92 percent of organizations that view customer experience as a differentiator offer multiple contact channels – and they must focus on every single interaction. It’s the full experience, every touch point, and every single interaction that will mold the outcome and determine if the party really was a good one.

In the end, the party has to be the one the guest talks about the next day and says to her friends, “You really should have been there It was great!” And that third-party validation – the word of mouth – all goes back to how the guest feels. You know, it’s the old adage: You may not remember what someone said, but you will always remember how he made you feel.

According to a McKinsey report, 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. But, unfortunately, according to a CEI Survey, only one percent of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations, while 86 percent of buyers said they would pay more for a better customer experience. Those stats show that there is a wide-open opportunity to make the customer experience better – and that’s exactly what consumers’ want. And because today’s consumers are digitally armed and technologically savvy, there are more channels to deliver on those expectations and really give them the party they want.

Because of these digitally armed, smart consumers, today’s customer experience is going through a revolution sparked by the variety of channels for interaction and the changing in the CRM function. CRM has transformed from being a standalone management function with a linear process, to becoming a customer-centric, integrated (albeit it needs to be more integrated), omnichannel experience that truly needs to focus on customer needs. Some companies – the smart ones – have already picked up on this and are joining the revolution, not by fighting back, but by changing approaches and processes.

The revolution is urging customers to rethink and understand that it’s massively important to engage customers – not just speak to or at them. Companies need to do more than just evolve their current strategies and instead, embrace the revolution and become more innovative in how they connect, store data, and share data about customer interactions internally. Companies need to figure out what customers want during their individual journeys – not just what the company wants the experience to be – and build solutions around those wants.

At this year’s CRM Evolution event in NYC, there was a lot of talk about what needs to be done and little talk about what has been done. It’s a focus on the future of the customer experience that is top of mind and the big question that kept popping up was: Is CRM in the midst of an evolution or a revolution?

While many industry thought leaders weighed in on the debate and provided their personal viewpoint, all agreed on one main point: something is happening and companies must understand the trends and focus on improving the customer experience. Companies need to stop partying like it’s 1999 and create a 21st century experience.

This story previously appeared on SAPVoice on Forbes.

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