What Does The Future Hold For Customer Centricity?

Published on 20th Jun 2017 in Marketing

"A customer success team now needs to be a given at any tech company" - Michelle Garnham, SVP Customer Success, Infinity

The modern customer, both consumer and business, has come to expect more than a high quality product alone. In crowded marketplaces, the level of attention and relevance a company can provide will be a differentiating factor in many purchases. Added to this, tech companies - typically obsessed with perfecting their products - are being challenged to stand out from the crowd by running a parallel track whereby product excellence is equaled by customer service they provide.

This ongoing move to a customer-centric approach is one that we were invited to talk about on a panel session at this year's Digital Marketing World Forum (DMWF) event in London yesterday. Our SVP of Customer Success, Michelle Garnham, took the stage alongside senior figures at Telefónica, Just-Eat, and the Financial Times to discuss a broad range of ways that a customer-lead approach can be adopted, and how they think businesses should do that.

Why Does Customer Success Matter? End-To-Never-Ending Customer Relationships

Customer interactions in the digital era have blossomed across multiple channels, with an expectation of swift, knowledgeable support as standard. A customer-centric digital approach that ties together on and offline touch points will equip teams with the context to not only solve existing problems, but provide strategic assistance to longer-term challenges.

"Customer-centric companies have moved from solely product-based offerings to supplying customers with teams dedicated to understanding how to solve the customer's problems. Customer success isn't just about fixing problems and showing you how to use a product, it's about providing a long-term strategic partnership that aligns with the customer's KPIs. Over time, it provides substantially more value to the customer."

Michelle Garnham, SVP Customer Success, Infinity

Products Become More Customer Centric

The rise of digital media has caused many traditional outlets to totally reevaluate their business model to keep up with customer expectations. The peril for ignoring how the customer lives, consumes, and thinks has never been graver.

"In 2008, 52% of revenue from the specialist division of the FT Group came from content (such as subscriptions), digital advertising and events. Last year, it had risen to 83%. This transformation required our marketing, sales, and editorial teams to work in a way that mirrored how our audience acted. We had to adapt to move beyond paid ads and build a value proposition that made subscriptions a 'must-buy'. It wasn't an easy transformation, but the FT now makes 60% of its revenues from its journalism."

Joanna Edwards, Head of Marketing – Financial Publishing, Financial Times

AI Streamlines Customer Communication

At peak times, it's vital that customer service and inbound sales requests across channels are answered quickly, and by the best reps to do deal with each specific customer or prospect. This is for both the customer's benefit and the company's, as missed and mishandled calls will cost a substantial amount as the amount of communication scales up.

Deloitte's 2017 global contact centre survey discovered that 56% of technology, media, and telecommunications companies are looking to invest in artificial intelligence1, and with good reason. Machine learning algorithms will assist in identifying the traits that signify a high value potential customer, a support request, or the product proficiency level of whoever is calling, and connect them with the most appropriate support or sales staff.

"As businesses continue to gather growing amounts of data, it becomes increasingly important to organise and use it. AI will solve a myriad of problems, the challenge is going to be choosing which ones. If used badly, AI will take up a lot of time and effort without improving your efficiency or the customer experience."

Michelle Garnham, SVP Customer Success, Infinity

Audience Segmentation and Benefit Understanding Is Vital

A company's ability to provide an effective customer-centric approach, that provides the best possible offering to all major audiences they target, will play a significant role in how much market share they can command over the coming years. Segmenting your customer base allows you to target customers with the most appropriate level of service according to your organisation’s priorities. To scale a customer success team you need to balance resources across a tech touch approach all the way up to close partnership with major accounts.

"The earlier a business creates an accurate segmentation of their customer base, the better. It enables you to prioritise services at different levels, underpinning a strategy that will benefit both the customer and you."

Michelle Garnham, SVP Customer Success, Infinity

"Be aware of developing for early adopters. They might give you one set of feedback that's highly relevant to them, but actually doesn't represent others. New, bigger audiences may react totally differently to your product, so getting the whole organisation to think about the benefits for each audience is key as you scale. Empathy must be embedded into your organization to succeed."

Lucia Gastélum Dourritzague, Chief of Staff, Global Innovation Office, Telefónica

GDPR is coming, be ready

The General Data Protection Regulation will come into effect in the UK on May 25th 2018, and presents new rules on how companies can collect and act upon personal data. There are strong fines for those who break these regulations, so early action needs to be taken to ensure you remain both compliant and effective.

"If you don't think GDPR affects you, I suggest you read up on it because it probably does. It's going to make marketing harder but will be better for the customer. From a CRM perspective, get ready by joining up your data and analytics strands to help ensure you have the correct marketing preferences, and that your data is accurate - this will help you to be compliant from May next year."

Joanna Edwards, Head of Marketing – Financial Publishing, Financial Times

Empathetic Businesses Work For Customers

In a lot of industries, the people making or designing a product are often a number of steps away from the end users. It's imperative to negate any downsides to this situation, and marketers are in a pivotal place to do so.

"A lot of companies struggle to effectively communicate their customers' needs and challenges back to the people developing or making the product. This empathy needs to start with marketers, who research the marketplace and educate internally. This knowledge needs to be spread throughout the company."

Chloe Stubbins, Head of Delivery, Global Growth Marketing, Just Eat

For more updates on DMWF, check back shortly to see our round-up of the whole event, with helpful ideas for marketers, sales teams, and management.

Experience Customer Success Today

Building a customer success team was the first move for Infinity when we received our investment last year. If you'd like to see what we can offer you, get in touch today.

References
1) "Understanding the future of customer service", Deloitte, (2017)

Head of Content

Andy Vale
Head of Content

Andy has spent years obsessively analysing B2B and B2C digital marketing campaigns and technology. Outside his family, his main loves are Woking FC, his Xbox, and his National Trust membership.

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