By Christie Flanagan on Jun 25, 2012
1. a sudden, radical or complete change
2. fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something; a change of paradigm
3. a changeover in use or preference especially in technology <the computer revolution>
Lately, I've been hearing an awful lot about the customer experience revolution. Tonight Oracle will be hosting The Experience Revolution, an evening of exploration and networking with customer experience executives in New York City where Oracle President Mark Hurd will introduce Oracle Customer Experience, a cross-stack suite of customer experience products that includes Oracle WebCenter and a number of other Oracle technologies. Then, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Forrester Customer Experience Forum East also kicks off in New York City where they'll examine how businesses can "reap the full business benefits of the customer experience revolution."
So, are we in the midst of a customer experience revolution? As a consumer, I can answer that question with a definitive “yes.” When I bought my very first car, I had a lot of questions. How do I know if I’m paying a fair price? How do I know if this dealer is honest? Why do I have to sit through these good cop, bad cop shenanigans between sales and sales management at the dealership? In the end the whole experience left me feeling deeply unsatisfied. I didn’t feel that I held all that much power over the experience and the only real negotiating trick I had was to walk out, which I did, many times before actually making a purchase.
Fast forward to a year ago and I found myself back in the market for a new car. The very first car that I bought had finally kicked the bucket after many years, many repair bills, and much wear and tear. Man, I had loved that car. It was time to move on, but I had a knot in my stomach when I reflected back on my last car purchase experience and dreaded the thought of going through that again. Could that have been the reason why I drove my old car for so long? But as I started the process of researching new cars, I started to feel really confident. I had a wealth of online information that helped me in my search. I went to Edmunds and plugged in some information on my preferences and left with a short list of vehicles. After an afternoon spent test driving the cars my short list, I had determined my favorite – it was a model I didn’t even know about until my research on Edmunds! But I didn’t want to go back to the dealership where I test drove it. They were clearly old school and wanted me to buy the way that they wanted to sell. No thanks!
After that I went back online. I figured out exactly what people had paid for this car in my area. I found out what kind of discount others were able to negotiate from an online community forum dedicated to the make and model. I found out how the sales people were being incentivized by the manufacturer that month. I learned which dealers had the best ratings and reviews. This was actually getting exciting. I was feeling really empowered. My next step was to request online quotes from the some of the highest rated dealers but I already knew exactly how much I was going to pay. This was really a test for the dealers. My new mantra was “let he who delivers the best customer experience win.”
An inside sales rep from one dealer responded to my quote request within a couple of hours. I told him I had already decided on the make and model and it was just a matter of figuring out who I would buy it from. I also told him that I was really busy and wouldn’t set foot in the dealership unless we had come to terms beforehand. Lastly, I let him know that I’d prefer to work out the details via email. He promised to get back to me shortly with a detailed quote.
Over the next few days I received calls from other dealers. One asked me a host of questions that I had already answered in their lengthy online form. Another blamed their website performance issues for their delay in responding to my request. But by then it didn’t really matter because I’d already bought the car days before from the dealer who responded to me first and who was willing to adjust their sales process to accommodate my buying one.
So, yes, I really do believe we are in the midst of a customer experience revolution. And every revolution leaves some victorious and others vanquished. Which side do you want to be on when it comes to the customer experience revolution?