Technology Sector

What happens when you deliver poor customer experiences and get complaints? You might ignore your customers — or worse, blame them — and lose them for life. Or you might fix their problems and earn their loyalty. What you and your employees will do depends on your customer culture.  In a global survey by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, 56 percent of companies described themselves as customer centric. Only 12 percent of their customers agreed.

This image illustrates the discrepancy in interpretation between how companies traditionally develop vertically into a number of distinct silos as growth takes hold – but that your customers will always interact with the company horizontally (they don’t care what business unit helps them with the product and/or service they require – they just want an exceptional overall experience.)

The technology industry continues to face a number of challenges when it comes to the development of improved customer experience and services.

Customer experience is a top priority for 86 percent of executives, according to Gartner’s “Amplifying the Enterprise: The CIO Agenda” report. Technology can enhance many aspects of customer experience, but most companies continue to miss the biggest opportunity—providing anticipation and proactive service to their willing customers.

Although technology companies often push the use of technology for their customers as they sell their products and services, they themselves rarely deploy new types of technology internally — and combine it with robust business process — to meet the particular and ever-expanding needs of their customers.

Although Amazon has received a lot of attention for its proposal regarding drone delivery, its basic strategy has always been one of anticipation and prevention. Amazon knew that once a book was ordered, the next question would be, “When will I receive it?” Therefore, the company proactively sent an email stating: “You will receive your order on Tuesday,” which eliminated a phone call and impressed customers with Amazon’s service.

Some of the problems are self-inflicted due to missteps and news reports of suspicious industry activities; employees who are not prepared, trained or authorised to provide flexible solutions to specific customer difficulties; some of the problems have developed due to the lag in the development of business & customer strategy processes; and emerging technologies can allow for better customer-centric strategies are not implemented fast enough (if at all.)

In truly customer-centric companies, all individuals (regardless of their roles) base their decisions and actions on the belief that what’s best for the customer is best for the businessNew evidence shows how a strong customer culture drives future business performance and supports market strategies.

New research, based on a quantitative study across more than 150 businesses, spanning various industries and functions, identifies seven cultural factors that drive customer satisfaction, revenue and profit growth, innovation, and new product success.

These are important predictors of future results and early indicators of risks and opportunities related to retaining customers and acquiring new ones.

This research on highly customer-centric businesses like Amazon, Virgin and salesforce.com tell us that these factors are disciplines that, if practiced and embedded, create superior value for customers and sustainable growth in value for stockholders. They can be measured and benchmarked for any organization.

The conundrum that technology companies face in becoming more “customer-centric” is that while the use of new technologies plays a massive role in the fostering of developing effective customer strategy – in itself, it is just an enabler to helping draft a closer connection to the customers.

How you roll it out and what strategies you choose to try and connect with your customer base plays a much bigger role in improving your status with your customer base.

Technology can set expectations via emails, videos, new user portals and Websites. Up to 30 percent of all customer dissatisfaction is caused by customers making simple mistakes or having incorrect expectations.

Technology can deliver welcome packages that highlight the top five things customers need to know, as well as problems to avoid. The welcome message can be a mash-up of video, graphics and bulleted text. Technology can also tailor the welcome package to the customer’s level of technical knowledge. For example, it could ask, Are you a novice, somewhat technical or a technology expert?

  • Zipcar provides short videos on basic transactions, such as extending the rental for two more hours. The videos, though only 90 seconds, are fun and entertaining, as well as educational.
  • At the beginning of an online form, an insurance company highlighted “the top five mistakes made when filling out this form.” As a result, the number of mistakes declined precipitously.
  • ServiceMaster’s American Home Shield maintenance unit sent an email to customers with hot-water repair orders, warning them that they might not have hot water for two days. Customer satisfaction went up 20 points as a result of the clear communication.

There are numerous straightforward opportunities to quickly improve aspects of the customer experience for those in the technology sector – be consumer or business-to-business commercially focused.  Most of them can start to show immediate results in short order if deployment is completed accurately.

Whether it is:

  1. Implementation or revision of Net Promoter® score (NPS®.)  NPS is one of the more common current key metrics deployed within large organisations in helping to measure customer experience.  The core problem is that NPS will attempt to tell you how you are performing in the eyes of your customer base through the use of a simple score – but not how to fix the root problems that customers encounter.
  2. Changing the sales process to not only improve the conversion rate, but also meet the evolving developments in technology and how both emerging markets and younger generations have adapted to use such technology.
  3. Developing a comprehensive social media strategy that meets the internal privacy & legal restrictions of the institution while providing an engaged level of customer support
  4. Reforming the processes and responses of call centre agents to meet the varied needs and improve the resolution of customer’s issues in a timely manner
  5. Improving overall customer satisfaction – traditionally an area found lacking for those customers dealing within the world of technology companies.  People have traditionally “tolerated” the companies that provide them access to different technologies, rather than seen them as a core part of their everyday life that they are — and then leveraged that experience to recommend them to their colleagues.

These are just a few examples of the many ideas that can be quickly implemented within a technology company — there are many areas to explore to develop a comprehensive customer experience strategy.

By “planting a flag” and showing that investing time, budget and effort in developing a core philosophy of meeting the fundamental needs of your customers, your company is betting that this tact of developing a customer strategy is a winning business viewpoint (as companies like Virgin, Amazon and American Express have proven with their astronomical growth over the past decade.)

This is not only from the perspective of the bottom line on the balance sheet, but provides tangential benefits such as improved employee satisfaction, improved public relations opportunities, lower operational and marketing costs, brand recognition and loyalty, etc.

The logical first step is to identify the “quick win” opportunities – this will provide traction across the organisation to show the value of the investing & developing your customer experience strategy.

There will be an educational element to the initial discussions as well – providing insight and a list of different opportunities available to company leadership to improve your customer’s experience and interactions with the company.

We can provide a comprehensive 30 day assessment on where to kick off and help develop a method to both develop & improve your customer’s experience with your company.  Please feel free to contact us and we look forward to helping your company.