We’ve been living in a cloud era for some time now and have watched its impact in transforming businesses, but what does it mean for customer service? Higher demands from customers have resulted in a new strategic role within organisations – the Chief Customer Officer. What does that role need to deliver in today’s cloud era to impact on company success?
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Cloud and customer expectations
The dominance of cloud has heavily impacted customer expectations. As consumers, we have all become used to having information available at our fingertips, whenever we want it, wherever we are and however we want to consume it. Forrester notes that “As customers become more accustomed to digital touchpoints, their expectations increase.” This is especially true for newer generations, now born into a digital world.
It’s no different in the business world when serving an ever-growing digital generation. According to Forrester, “Millennials are becoming the largest demographic group in your workforce. Their experience with digital technology shapes their expectations of and behaviour in the workplace. They expect and need high-quality technologies and easily consumable technology services that enable them to succeed.”
Forrester cites that we are now in the “age of the customer”. It is therefore time to prioritise those that have the most impact on a business – the customer. Customers expect the best service, products and experience and there is no reason for companies to fail in delivery. Again, like consumers, customers expect the same level of service whenever and wherever they are and in a way they want to receive it. The good news is the technology is there to help, with cloud ERP eliminating friction and errors when dealing with customer facing processes to create satisfying experiences for everyone involved.
Introducing the Chief Customer Officer
With customer complacency now gone, customer loyalty is much more difficult to achieve. As the cloud era gains more dominance and the customer has become king, it is no surprise to see a rise in a new role – Chief Customer Officer (CCO). This role is vital in ensuring companies remain competitive. The CCO has to look both internally and externally to make sure the right teams, technology, policies and processes are in place to offer second-to-none customer service and that it is felt by each and every customer.
Customer relationships have also been changing. No longer are they built on one-off transactions. Customer service is now responsible for building long-term real relationships where every customer touch with a company is easy, enjoyable and valuable. It is only then when customer loyalty can be created. No-one expects a completely perfect service all of the time, but it is how companies interact in good times and bad, that also helps to formulate a strong relationship and one which may reap benefits in the long-term for both parties as they grow together.
A CCO needs to work in tandem with all departments of a business, both back and front office, to ensure a customer has a smooth interaction. Whether they want to buy more, get advice, check status or even complain – each connection should be received with the same level of enthusiasm, professionalism, consistency and accuracy, resulting in strong customer satisfaction.
Impact of technology
Cloud technology, if implemented with the right strategy, can impact dramatically on how a CCO can succeed. If each and every person in a company is able to see a complete 360 degree customer view, the chances of excellence in customer service delivery are significantly improved. If anyone can view data from sales, finance, HR and services in one true customer record it provides great insight to give more understanding of a customer, and what is needed to serve that customer well. It’s not enough to patch together different cloud apps, as that can still result in siloed information between departments leading to a lack of consistency in how customers are served. To share data across all departments in the easiest way all cloud applications should be on the same platform. Not all CCOs will have direct decision making when it comes to technology, but the most savvy will ensure they have influence and the best possible opportunity to succeed in exemplary customer service delivery.
The digital age has increased competition overall. Forrester states that “competition is increasingly based on the strength of your digital experiences and digital business. At the same time, your customers’ expectations are formed by their best experiences in any industry.” Without a strong customer-centric position, a company can sit back as dissatisfaction is communicated publicly and quickly and a customer moves on to another provider. Having a CCO in place can ensure that customer-centricity remains a priority for all.
Customer service shift
Expectations driven in the cloud era mean that customers expect companies to form relationships with them. For too long many have rallied around to try and problem solve with those customers who are not happy and not receiving the service they believe they have signed up for. A successful CCO will ensure the right touch points are in place to continue to build relationships with satisfied and dissatisfied customers. This reduces attrition, increases retention and greatly improves the likelihood of cross-selling. Not only that, but it can help a company build fantastic references. Third party endorsement is easier for others to view and has more credibility than ever before.
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The cloud era is set to stay, customer demand will continue to increase and the CCO role is set to continue its rise. It’s a busy role, but vital for those companies who wish to win through in a digital age where companies must centre everything they do around the most important party – the customer.