Today’s customers literally have a world of information at
their fingertips. Gone are the days when the vendor – via sales reps,
advertising, and marketing – was the primary source for information on a
product or service.
Customers increasingly search online for information, join
social networks, and leverage other social media channels for trusted
third-party information and perspectives. A 2013 study, "B2B
Technology Decision Journey," found that 80% of IT decision makers deem word-of-mouth input as the
most important influence when making buying decisions; and 58% said they use
social media to learn from trusted peers.
To build strong relationships in this rapidly changing,
instant access environment, the ability to connect and, more importantly,
collaborate with customers in new ways is imperative.
There is no question that the balance of power has shifted
decisively in favor of the customer, who expects easy access to a full set of
technology and business research and resources. Vendors can still play a vital role in this
information exchange by integrating the offline and online worlds to manage the
path of the customer’s journey.
For example, online communities can help customers take advantage
of solutions and proactively resolve support issues. Our research shows that for every 300 online
interactions via these communities, 100 support calls are avoided.
As important, when sales teams begin to pay greater
attention to customers’ online and social media interactions, they gain insight
that can fortify trust and enable greater collaboration for solving a
customer’s business challenges – before an inquiry is even made.
Organizations should be focused on systematically managing interactions
across social and online channels – using search results, white paper downloads,
and social media postings to foster stronger customer understanding and relationships.
Cloud-based tools can help track the customer’s
actual usage of products and capture insight into their everyday experience, with
an eye toward adding value and extending collaboration. By better understanding technology adoption
issues and patterns, we can help customers to build a roadmap that enables them
to get the greatest value possible out of their investments.
As part of an integrated strategy to expand customer collaboration,
creating specific programs that focus on better understanding, documenting, and
augmenting the customer’s journey acts as a source for professional development
and knowledge expansion. Here at Oracle we’ve
launched a Customer Experience (CX) Journey Mapping program that helps
businesses to overcome organizational barriers to achieving true customer
centricity. Serving as a trusted
advisor, we share journey-mapping tools and techniques with customers to help
them jump-start their CX transformation process. These half-day workshops give customers the
fundamentals for customer centricity and the means to apply them within their
organizations. They also serve to further
strengthen our customer relationships.
Customer centricity can no longer be about one-off
initiatives. It must be a part of a
company’s corporate DNA.
As the profile of a customer changes, with a heavier reliance on online channels to make decisions, find information, and communicate, all of us need to evolve at the same pace. By establishing ways to facilitate proactive collaboration and enable instant access to information, we can enrich our customers' experiences and promote customer-centricity within our own organizations.