CHANNEL PARTNERS EVOLUTION — Despite what you’ve probably heard or assumed, more customers these days are sharing good experiences than bad ones.
In fact, in her Thursday morning keynote at Channel Partners Evolution, Catherine Sugarbroad, executive director, enterprise product management and pricing for Verizon, said the latest numbers show the sharing of good news is 10 percent higher than that of bad. Millennials – and their affinity for social media – are a big reason why.
The big takeaway, Sugarbroad says: If you can create great experiences, you’re really going to accelerate your business.
“When everyone is going digital, how do you stand out?” she asked the crowd. “The opportunity is in the relationship.”
Sugarbroad shared five things to keep the customer experience in focus. The first is mapping out what you want your customer’s journey to look like. It takes work, she said, but the more time you put into it, the better the result is likely to be. Once that journey has been mapped, she said, look for opportunities to disrupt expectation.
Case in point, take an area where customer expectation might be low. That’s where you can really capitalize.
“If you can create an experience where their expectations were low and make them stress free, they’ll go to their friends and talk about what a great experience they had,” Sugarbroad said.
The second point: Don’t hide behind bad technology. Sugarbroad asked the audience to raise their hands if they like self-checkout at the grocery store. Only a few people signaled that they do.
“The guy who created self-checkout was a point-of-sale product manager who thought, ‘How do I optimize this [situation] and save the retailer money?’” she noted, raising the example of Amazon being a company that developed innovative ideas – with the technology coming later – to optimize the customer experience.
“Identify where you might be applying bad technology and focus on customer value,” Sugarbroad said. “You might surprise yourself.”
Her third suggestion: Don’t overautomate.
“The reality is,” Sugarbroad told the audience, “not all customers want to be served digitally. The majority of people will do some things by self-service means, but if it gets complicated, they want to talk to a human.”
Corporations, she said, increasingly want to cut costs by reducing human interaction. Businesses that make human interaction a value for their customers could be a major differentiator as technology continues to flourish.
The fourth point is a simple offshoot of not overautomating, but it’s often forgotten: “Speak human.”
“We love to talk technology,” Sugarbroad said, “but it’s important to communicate with our customers on a different level.” Anticipate the customer’s needs. Talk “human” to me, she said.
Last, repeat the process. It shouldn’t be “one and done.”
“If you’re always listening to the customer and keep that continuing process going, customer experience will improve and your business process will keep improving,” Sugarbroad said.
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