Try to find a company where customers bring something else other than cash, credit, or points in loyalty cards. You won’t find much. – John S. McKean
While most companies seem to have a good grasp of what “voice of the customer” means and its importance, there seems to be a big challenge around the cultural shift that the voice-of-the-customer strategy requires in order to be truly effective.
The main reason why companies don’t implement a customer-centric strategy is because they assume that they are in charge.
- Companies give promotions to their customers;
- Companies produce products that customers really want;
- Companies collaborate with their customers in social channels;
- Companies “target,” “acquire,” “manage,” and “retain” customers as if they were not able to manage their own wills.
The thinking behind all this mentality dismisses customers’ individual differences and customers’ real ability to contribute.
Many of us expected the balance of power between companies and customers to shift with omni-channel retail, but in fact companies are less involved with their customers thanks to big data, analytics, business intelligence, and programmatic marketing.
Collaboration doesn’t mean engagement
If the company is in charge, by creating methods of engagement, predicting behavior, and controlling the customer experience, the customer is not more than a number that belongs to a group of other similar “variables.” How can you really hear the voice of your customer with all this noise around you?
Improving technology to satisfy companies is not a substitute for direct knowledge voluntarily given by customers. Over the coming years customers will be emancipated from systems that were built to control them, and customer relationship management (CRM) will finally die as a software category.
Looking beyond CRM
Information mining is a key phase in any voice-of-the-customer strategy, and ethnographic methods have been proven to be the most efficient for customer-centric innovation rather than the usual quantitative methodologies. Companies need systems that aggregate raw data from all touch points affecting decision making in real time. This type of initiative typically has a significant upfront investment before measurable benefits can be realized, but even knowing that digital transformation is moving much more rapidly in some industries than in others, no one can afford to wait much longer.
Companies that invest in their customers now are the ones that will see the biggest profits in the future. The voice of the customer is rapidly evolving along with anything connected via the Web, and customers will completely stop sharing their voice with companies that simply follow legacy approaches and are obsessed with statistical inferences.
It’s time to change; it’s time to inspire your customers
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Find out more about the omni-channel customer experience in the SAP eBook Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Changing Our World.
For an in-depth look at how customers are influencing business innovation, download the SAP eBook, The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.
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