No Customer Left Behind

A guest post by David Vap, Group Vice President, Oracle Applications Product Development

What does customer experience mean to you? Is it a strategy for your executives? A new buzz word and marketing term? A bunch of CRM technology with social software added on?

For me, customer experience is a customer-centric worldview that produces a deeper understanding of your business and what it takes to achieve sustainable, differentiated success. It requires you to prioritize and examine the journey your customers are on with your brand, so you can answer the question, "How can we drive greater value for our business by delivering a better customer experience?"

Businesses that embrace a customer-centric worldview understand their business at a much deeper level than most. They know who their customers are, what their value is, what they do, what they say, what they want, and ultimately what that means to their business.

"Why Isn't Everyone Doing It?"

We're all consumers who have our own experiences with many brands. Good or bad, some of those experiences stay with us. So viscerally we understand the concept of customer experience from the stories we share. One that stands out in my mind happened as I was preparing to leave for a 12-month job assignment in Europe.

I wanted to put my cable television subscription on hold. I wasn't leaving for another vendor. I wasn't upset. I just had a situation where it made sense to put my $180 per month account on pause until I returned. Unfortunately, there was no way for this cable company to acknowledge that I was a loyal customer with a logical request ─ and to respond accordingly. So, ultimately, they lost my business.

Research shows us that it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Heavily funding the efforts of getting new customers and underfunding the efforts of serving the needs of your existing (who are your greatest advocates) is a vicious and costly cycle.

"Hey, These Guys Suck!"

I love my Apple iPad because it's so easy to use. The explosion of these types of technologies, combined with new media channels, has raised our expectations and made us hyperaware of what's going on and what's available. In addition, social media has given us a megaphone to share experiences both positive and negative with greater impact.

We are now an always-on culture that thrives on our ability to access, connect, and share anywhere anytime. If we don't get the service, product, or value we expect, it is easy to tell many people about it. We also can quickly learn where else to get what we want.

Consumers have the power of influence and choice at a global scale. The businesses that understand this principle are able to leverage that power to their advantage. The ones that don't, suffer from it.

Which camp are you in?

Note: This is Part 1 in a three-part series.
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