Think about the last time you had a negative interaction with a business. Maybe it was at a store, or you were trying to deal with a product that stopped working — or maybe it was with an airline or even a restaurant. Do you remember how that experience felt? How fast would you choose to work with that company again? When I have a bad experience with a company, I switch vendors, no matter what.
I’ll give you a silly and simple example from a few months ago. For years, I’ve ordered pizza and food from the same local shop in my town. The owner (the father) and the guy who works behind the counter (the son) know me and my whole family. A few months ago, my family was coming over and I went in there, on a Friday night, to pick up food I ordered. My family, being Italian, likes A LOT of sauce, so I asked for extra sauce with my order.
When I asked if they included the extra sauce, the son held up a three-ounce plastic cup. “Oh, that’s not going to be enough” I told him “I need at least a quart.” That’s when his father looked up and said, “You don’t need that much.” To which I replied, “But I do.” So, the father says something angrily to his son in Italian and his son goes to get it. When he comes back, the son tells me he must charge me $1 for the extra sauce. To be honest, I would’ve been less mad if it was $5 because at least I would’ve felt like I was covering the cost of goods. $1 felt petty and spiteful, so I left there really annoyed. I have been a loyal customer for at least a decade and have spent thousands at their store over the years. The fact that they had given me an attitude and asked for $1 instead of just giving me what I asked for made this experience even worse. I haven’t gone back, and I won’t. Trust me, there are plenty of pizza places that I can go to in New Jersey!
It’s no different in any other area in our lives. Whether it’s personal or work, we expect a great experience. And if we don’t get it, we’ll find someone else to buy from and to work with. This is the Experience Economy and customer experience is the competitive edge to get ahead in the market. In fact, Gartner predicts that 89% of companies will compete primarily on CX and Forrester has declared CX as the only sustainable competitive advantage remaining. Not to mention that customer-focused events like CX Day are quickly becoming globally recognized events.
It’s one thing to talk about customer experience, but quite another to shift an entire company to a CX culture. To filter through the hype, employees must be inspired to embrace a mindset where everything they do is through the lens of the customer — someone outside themselves — to develop solutions focused on solving the customer’s problems. And let’s face it, that’s a hard thing to do.
At some point, we’ve all worked with a company that doesn’t have your best interest in mind. It is frustrating, isolating, and a bit aggravating if I’m being honest. With so many competing technologies, one less than ideal experience and I go looking for another vendor. And I’m not alone — a bad experience will deeply hinder customer loyalty. Safeguarding customers’ experience is just as important as the product we sell. Customers have more choices when it comes to technology, and even more so with the shift to cloud and SaaS.
On the flip side, we all know what it feels like to be taken care of by a company. When a company lives and breathes customer experience you feel like they care about you, and they work hard to keep your business. The best MarTech companies I’ve worked with were focused on me, my team, our success, and our experience. They became a trusted advisor on our journey. And I’ve stayed loyal to them.
That’s why I’m so passionate about our approach to leading with customer experience. Most have heard me talk about an “Outside-In” approach. That means prioritizing the customer, their needs, their time, and their experience above all else. I love to talk to my team about what a “perfect world” looks like. Like every company we have a long way to go to that perfect world, but we’ve made some really significant steps to:
Listen to our customers
Everyone wants to be heard and we are putting the mechanisms in place to really listen to what our customers want from us. One way is through our Voice of the Customer program which creates direct feedback loops into teams like R&D, Product, and Services. Doing so allows our teams to focus on the customer and better deliver solutions that matter to them. Sometimes taking in all the feedback is uncomfortable, because let’s face it, we’re not perfect. The only way we can do better for our customers is by taking the time to stop and listen to them.
Be a trusted advisor
One of our customers recently stated, “you get excited when we get excited” and it’s true — we do! We know that getting started and staying on track is critical to our customers’ success. To that end, our Services teams are transforming the way they work together to deliver exceptional customer experiences, along with our growing partner ecosystem, day in and day out. We may be the experts in our technology, but our customers are by far the experts in their business. Together, with our partners, our trusted advisor status can’t be beat.
Create more engaging experiences
At times technology can feel really — well — technical. That’s why we’re focused on serving up more engaging education and awareness programs that fit what our customers need to thrive with our products. Self-paced learning gives customers an opportunity to grow their skill set at their own pace, while our thriving Customer Advisory Boards, User Groups and Tech Communities gives customers a place to network with peers, ask questions from experts, and inspire each other with their use cases and solutions.
We are on the journey — together.
We’re all in on our customers. Listening to their feedback and taking time to understand their unique journeys helps us build products that really solve their problems. It’s not about us. It’s all about delivering on the outcomes our customers set out to achieve. Our customers are at the center of everything we do — from events, to onboarding and education and success planning — we do whatever it takes to help our customers reach their goals.
Putting our customers’ needs before our own, being there for them from day one, and helping them grow and thrive with our software is essential at Software AG. Because, let’s face it, we can’t be the number one Enterprise Integration company we aspire to be without our most valuable players — our customers.