Note: This is an edited transcript of Brian Solis’ keynote presentation at a Telstra event.
I believe every business wants to be customer-centric and deliver a great customer experience. I believe that companies do have customers' best interests at heart.
What I don't believe is they always back that with investments, or strategies, because we have to report to shareholders, reduce costs and improve efficiencies because that's how business works.
So what happens when your customer is changing at a faster pace than you realise?
The challenge is we’re often making decisions about what's better for our customers and what's better for our employees based on how we understand the world, not the expectations of connected consumers.
Understanding the culture of engagement
We need to change our thinking and understand that philosophy of consumers is engagement. Engagement is not something you do - it's something you are.
It’s no coincidence that companies who get this culture are also growth champions. They see consumer engagement as an opportunity to improve profit margins, to improve productivity because it's a higher purpose. History shows that any business that aspires to a higher purpose will always outperform businesses that focus on shareholders.
Processes for continuous improvement
There are just a few things to think about as your organisation changes to improve the experience of its customers: listen, learn, engage, adapt.
That's your road map. Rather than a risk-averse culture, what we need now is a culture of customer-centricity and a culture of innovation.
I constantly get asked about concrete examples, but there are not many. But does that mean that you're not going to try to be a better business; that you have to wait for someone else to do it?
Focus on customer needs
The businesses that are succeeding in the connected world are focusing on two things: understanding customer needs and customer expectations.
I don't mean just listening to them. Do you realise that in the real time web, if you can respond to somebody within 10 minutes, the chances of a purchase or retention skyrocket through the roof? But those numbers dwindle as time passes to where after the first 24 hours it's a dead deal. And we used to think that one-day response times were great.
Achieving this sort of result is possible when we shift from management to leadership cultures.
Owning the customer experience
What we're starting to see now is that CMOs are outspending CIOs. Over the next five years CMOs are really trying to take control of the budget and that's because they see technology, social media, mobile as having everything to do with marketing.
But what we're doing in that argument is isolating the customer experience. Nobody owns the customer experience; everybody needs to now work together in order to make a consistent experience across each moment of truth.
This is an opportunity to see things that other people can't see, to do things that other people won't do because if you do, we're already seeing that profits go through the roof. Service and customer advocacy goes through the roof.
The challenge is not about how to do this: the challenge is just doing it.
This is the time where risk-takers and visionaries define the path for the future of business. It's not just about a clever tomorrow, it's about you, and it's about you being that growth champion so that your organisation becomes a growth champion.
Business wants to be customer centric but often lack the strategies to make it happen.
Consumer engagement is an opportunity to improve profit margins and profitability.
Listen, learn, engage and adapt to improve customer experience.