The Future of Customer Experience is Guided Service

As a CMO, a lot of my job comes down to attracting and retaining customers. Throughout my career, I’ve tried to identify experiences outside of the office where I’m playing the role of customer that I can extract value from and apply to my work.

The ones to choose from are plentiful as today’s digitally native customers, myself included, are less and less influenced by deals and catchy ads. Instead we value ongoing experience with brands that matter most to us.  And whether you’re a healthcare provider, a bank, or a B2B software vendor, your company always changes for the better when it’s forced to evolve by listening to customers.  Consequently, marketing decision makers must embrace the challenging but exciting opportunity of ensuring that every brand interaction is meeting or exceeding consumer expectations. Doing so puts them and their companies in the position to win and keep customers for life.

A Great Experience is an Easy Experience

A ‘great customer experience’ can mean a lot of different things, but I tend to notice one common thread: they are easy. When you ask customers what is the most important thing businesses can do to win their loyalty, “make it easy for me” is what they come back to.  Therefore, a key to bottom line success is identifying, leveraging, and ultimately scaling the link between customer convenience and loyalty.

This isn’t earth shattering news. Over the past decade, enterprises have invested millions to create better, more engaging experiences for their customers.  Whether it’s an app, a portal, or a chatbot, companies are constantly trying to discover the next great answer to customer self-service.  The problem is that too often, these tools fail when customers need them the most.  We’ve all been there: a fancy portal hidden behind a password we forget, an IVR that we try to skip through immediately, an app that we download once but never actually use.  These self-service tools sound great in theory, but making it easy isn’t as easy at it sounds.

How Can You Simplify the Experience?

Now think about the first time you interacted with Lyft, Amazon, Netflix, Warby Parker, Virgin Airlines or any one of the handful of companies that are completely rethinking the customer experience. While all these businesses are completely different, they are razor focused on making each customer action and interaction easy. Admittedly, there are moments which are nuanced and complicated, but I’d challenge you think about simple tasks your customer wants to complete to maintain that relationship with your brand. Map out opportunities to reduce the amount of steps that interaction takes. Then, guide them through the rest. This proactive, guided approach to the customer experience can empower your customers with the necessary tools to get them where they need to go – and get on with the rest of their lives.  Customers want the ability to get things done themselves — but more times than not, that requires some level of guidance from the business on exactly what they need to do next.

To Keep Your Customers, Think Like One

Take a walk in your customer’s shoes. Think about what your customers are going through with your brand right now, and help make those interactions more valuable. If that sounds a lot like customer service to you — it should. If you really consider your customer’s perspective, you’ll realize no one really wants to be marketed to, but everyone wants good service. And in many ways, good customer service is the best kind of marketing you can hope for.

Take the simple example of moving homes and reinstalling cable service. A marketer’s first reaction might be to use this moment to promote a new channel package or services bundle. But before the customer can give those offerings a thought, they must first return their old cable box. While this is something that should be simple, it often turns into a confusing and frustrating process.  As a marketer, making sure that box gets returned is not your job. But the person returning that box is your customer, and that’s the situation they are facing right now. Ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to make that customer’s life better in this present moment?” Make guided service a part of the overall marketing equation. If you can spend your time and energy eliminating that pain point now, you’re more likely to have a customer for life — and who knows, they might even add HBO.

About the author:

Brieana Tascione is the CMO of Relay Network, a Philadelphia based customer communications company that connects businesses and their customers on a new space for better service experiences.

Today’s ‘Tech Trends’ to Tomorrow’s Value Innovation

By: Dave Spencer, SVP & Managing Director, East Market Unit, SAP

What were once considered to be tech trends soon to permeate businesses in our future, terms like Machine Learning, Blockchain, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are quickly shifting from ‘trends to watch’ to disruptive forces in the enterprise today.

When it comes to the potential magnitude of their impact, some of the writing is already on the wall. For example, Machine Learning and AI will bring a new level of intelligence to business environments, enabling people to focus on work that adds value, rather than repetitive tasks. Blockchain is poised to become the new protocol for digital assets, exchanges, and identity. And IoT is creating massive amounts of data that can be gleaned for insights to make business processes more connected, efficient and productive.

In today’s innovation race, identifying and acting on technology trends quickly is crucial. However, as technology so often does, these shifts are coming fast and with such complexity that their impacts can be difficult to predict. Many companies don’t know where to even begin, or more importantly how to be sure they won’t waste money on innovation they can’t implement, adapt and scale. Furthermore, innovation far too often occurs in silos and without a core strategy. With this rapid proliferation of new technologies, it’s no surprise that companies may find themselves with a significant disconnect between innovation and business value.

Click here to read the full article.

Why Your B2B Customer Now Expects a B2C Experience

A Look at How Digital Sales Technologies are Changing the Game

Written by Bill Butler, CEO, Journey Sales

When you purchase something from, say, Amazon, every step of the buying experience—from search results to pricing to confirmation email to package arrival—is meticulously designed and orchestrated. Executed properly, this experience brings you not only satisfaction, but also delight. And it keeps you coming back for more, again and again, sometimes with alarming frequency.

Included in that collective “you” are folks who spend their workday making B2B purchase-related decisions. What’s interesting about this audience segment is that their Amazon experience has created a level of expectation in their professional role: they have come to expect a B2C buying experience in their B2B purchasing world. That expectation, however, is not being met. The B2B sales reps that sell to them aren’t always delivering satisfaction (let alone delight) throughout the sales cycle. They’re relying on the same old static, analog tools that are, in fact, increasingly reviled by their prospects and customers. “Did you get my voicemail?” emails annoy the customer. “I just sent you a follow-up email” voicemails only increase the frustration.

And this is why the next wave of B2B sales is rooted in digital a customer experience which is relevant and personalized.

Before we get to that though, let’s address what this next wave is not. Sales going digital isn’t the end of the sales rep. The human elements of relationship and trust will always be an important part of B2B sales and digital will strengthen those relationships —at least until the robots fully take over. (Further reading: “Relationships Aren’t Going Anywhere”)

Digital selling is about creating an experience that aligns with how the customer buys—and how they buy has changed. There is no single decision-maker anymore. Deal’s don’t get done with just a few phone calls or in-person meetings. B2B buying today is about internal consensus. It’s about an average of 6.8 decision-makers sitting at the table, arriving at different times in the process.

So how do sales professionals gel with that? They take advantage of the digital tools at their disposal that are designed to make it easier for your customer to buy. When you can make it delightfully simple for a customer to invite a fellow decision-making colleague into a digital environment, quickly get up to speed and sign off on a requirement, the deal moves faster. But perhaps more importantly, the next generation of sales technologies allow sales pros to engage with more people within more companies. Land-and-expand just got a whole lot easier.

The next wave is also going to help sales pros get smarter. They’ll actually be able to see and gain insight on those hundreds of micro-moments that can knock a deal off the rails. Excuses like “Oh his boss must’ve never seen the spec sheet” or “He didn’t run this by legal with enough advanced notice” will no longer be valid because those of us on the sales side will have the data and insights we need to mitigate those micro-moments, often before they even happen.

And all of these aligns customer experience expectations. Will the B2B sales process ever feel just like checking out on Amazon? Probably not. B2B decisions take more people, time, content, and analysis.  But the more sales tech can complement the rep’s skillset and shape a customer experience that feels in step with what we, as digital citizens, expect in the consumer realm, the faster opportunities will convert and the deeper and more numerous the relationships will be.

 

Bill Butler is the CEO of Journey Sales. He spends every waking moment (starting at 4:30 a.m. every morning) helping sales reps exceed quota and companies grow revenue. Chat him up at bbutler@journeysales.com.

The New York State Department of Financial Services (“NYS DFS”) Cybersecurity Regulations: We are all connected.

Written by Steve Fiergang, Esq., General Counsel, Layer 8 Security

Welcome to the future of cybersecurity: not only in the financial services, banking, and insurance sectors but for all of their third-party service providers (read: You); cyber regulations are in effect.

By now, most of you in the worlds of finance and insurance have been introduced to the recent NYS DFS Regulations. As you will see, these regulations extend far beyond state boundaries and lines of business.   Rather than proffering a construct for another “voluntary” framework to accurately gauge cybersecurity risk, New York boldly puts forth a set of minimum standards by which to judge the thoroughness of each entity’s information security program.  While there are potentially high costs associated with adhering to these regulations that will be imposed upon companies both locally and nation-wide, we believe this is a significant advancement for our country from the perspective of both cyber and financial security.

With the rollout of these regulations scheduled to occur in less than 180 days, here are the five questions (and answers) that should be on the minds of all businesses in the Philadelphia region regardless of whether you work in banking, financial industry or insurance:

Q:  How does this regulation affect my business?

A.:  Every company operates within an ecosphere of interrelated technology dependence and connection.  A significant component of the regulations appear in Section 500.11 Third Party Service Provider Security Policy.  More and more, looking up and down the supply chain, all companies’ IT systems and architecture are connected.  A breach anywhere within the chain can immediately corrupt a third-party provider, supplier or customer.  True resilience can only be achieved when every company, large and small, implements and maintains a personally tailored cybersecurity program.

  1. How do the recent NYS DFS regulations impact companies that have clients in New York?
  2. This question arises as a crossover from individual State Breach Notification Laws, which often require companies to notify those who have been breached whenever any customer of a company resides in its State.  In this case, the regulations speak specifically to covered entities, not customers.

Q:  How do these regulations affect an entity that is domiciled out of NY State but has a satellite office within?

A:  The Regulations apply to “any Person operating or required to operate under a license, registration, charter, certificate, permit, accreditation or similar authorization under the banking law, the insurance law or the financial services law”.  The definition of a covered entity is responsive; if the satellite office is currently required to operate under the authorization of the NYS DFS, then the regulations apply.

Q.:  Are related companies required to develop and implement separate cybersecurity programs?

A.:  Regarding affiliated or sister companies, the regulations make clear that any affiliate may adopt a cybersecurity program maintained by its related covered entity, so long as the cybersecurity program covers the affiliate’s information systems and nonpublic information and meets the requirements of the regulations.

Q: Will other states echo these regulations and if so, what are the implications associated with such a trend?

A:  New York is the country’s financial center, and as such, it is logical that they take the lead.  While the future has yet to be written, this is an excellent jumping off point for Federal review.  The most logical and coordinated approach would require Federal regulation.  In its absence, our hope is that NYS DFS Regulations become a model that other states replicate.  The worst-case scenario is one where a patchwork of poorly matched regulations and guidance from state-to-state leave companies in the lurch as to how best to move forward.