At this year’s Dreamforce keynote, Marc Benioff introduced a new concept: The Internet of Customers. It’s a compelling idea – a great phrase – but what does it really mean?
Deep down, we know that our businesses wouldn’t exist without our customers – they are single most important factor in our success. They’re as critical to the survival of our companies as water and air are to human life.
Yet somehow, while we generally remember to breathe and hydrate all long, we only focus on our customers when it’s convenient. For many companies, “when it’s convenient” translates to “infrequently.”
In today’s business world, that attitude isn’t going to cut it. Customer centricity needs to be an ingrained behavior – just like drinking water – or your customers will go elsewhere.
Based on both some of our takeaways from Dreamforce and our experience, here are four, applicable strategies for being more customer-focused every day.
With the shift to digital and the rise of social media, it’s easy to get lost in the technology and lose sight of the people behind the technology – your customers. However, worrying about “how to do Twitter” in a silo isn’t actually going to help you understand or communicate with your customers. In fact, it doesn’t really matter where or how your customers are communicating. The important thing is what they are communicating, and whether you’re able to follow that conversation across all channels in a consistent, way. You have to be sensitive to selecting the right time and channel to engage your customers, but the focus isn’t on the technology – it’s on the quality of the interaction and the message.
In “Just Add Story: Creating an Emotional Connection at Every Audience Touch Point,” Jonah Sachs founder and CEO of the creative agency Free Range Studios shared that in a poll, most companies answered that their product or their brand was the hero of their company story. That line of thinking certainly makes sense, but it’s not the kind of story that will win over customers and create brand advocates. In order to engage and charm your customers, you need to make them the hero of the story. Create content and messages that empowers them – and in turn, your customers will want to tell everyone about how they did it, how they solved their problems – using your incredible product or solution.
When he introduced Saleforce1, Benioff explained, “It’s not about a single app, it’s about a robust platform.” That line of thinking was pervasive throughout many of the product sessions. While individual modules and products matter a great deal to your customers, the cohesive interplay of those solutions is often what will transform their business. A unified platform view is particularly critical and eye-opening when it comes to data and analytics. Being able to offer a connected, transparent view of both internal and externals process and data enables a streamlined workflow and empowers faster, smarter decision-making.
As companies grow, the departments become more siloed. It’s important to allow everyone to drill down on their area of expertise, but when that happens, it’s easy to forget that you’re all working towards the same goal: Customer satisfaction. It’s essential that you have a system for interdepartmental knowledge sharing. The more you communicate internally, the better insight you’ll have into your customer. As everyone goes back to their own silos and departments, they’ll incorporate the collective knowledge to formulate better business decisions. Who benefits? First and foremost, your customer.
Welcome to The Internet of Customers!