In the age of the customer, modern SaaS companies can’t survive without adopting customer-centric values and molding every aspect of their customer experience (CX) to form-fit the needs of each customer. But in today’s rapidly changing business world, it can be difficult to identify the gaps in your customer experience and mend them before its too late. And how do you know where to start?
Last week, we attended a fantastic webinar hosted by ChurnZero. The webinar was presented by Certified Customer Experience Professional Julia Ahlfeldt who took attendees on a 1-hour journey through the process of revolutionizing your SaaS company’s customer experience, increasing retention, and reaching new levels of company-wide success through customer-centric change.
This presentation was jam-packed with insights, actionable tips and fresh perspectives on the power of customer centricity, CX strategy alignment, and more. There’s a lot to it, but we did our best to sum it up into a few short takeaways. Here are 5 lessons we learned from this fantastic webinar!
1. In the age of the customer, customer centricity is key.
Ahlfeldt opens the webinar with a brief history of the various industrial eras, explaining how our current era came to be, and what it means for today’s SaaS companies.
We live in the age of the customer, and much like the age of manufacturing (1900), the age of distribution (1960) or the age of information (1990) – the age of the customer (2010) comes with its own unique opportunities and unique difficulties. Ahlfeldt explains that the age of the customer is defined to be a marketplace filled with highly informed consumers capable of making smart decisions about when and where they spend their money.
A direct result of the era before it, which even in its infancy empowered the average consumer with access to an abundance of information not previously available to them. The rise of the internet allowed consumers to interact with companies more directly, comparing, researching, and making decisions in a whole new way. The invention of smartphones took this concept even further, giving consumers the ability to carry the internet in their pockets and granting them access to an endless stream of information anywhere in the world, at any time.
The end result? Companies no longer control their brand reputation. Customers do. Informed customers have higher expectations – and they don’t check those expectations at the door when they go to work. They carry those expectations with them everywhere they go, causing these high expectations to gradually leak from the previous confines of the B2C world into the B2B world, and forever changing how B2B businesses interact with other businesses. In the age of the customer, the success of a company is determined by its ability to meet the needs and expectations of the highly-informed modern consumer and to meet each customer where they are.
2. Customer Experience is the key to loyalty.
Pointing out that loyalty is the result of many accumulative experiences, Ahlfeldt compares it to a jar of “experience marbles”. While a good experience may add a few experience marbles to the jar, a bad experience may take a handful of marbles out. Loyalty isn’t something that can be bought or sold. It has to be earned and maintained constantly.
The process of earning and maintaining your customer’s loyalty is known as the customer journey, and it is the responsibility of you and your team to walk with them through every step of that journey. Going on this journey with your customer is the only way to control where that journey will take them. This is extremely important because the longer your customers stay with you, the more value they offer to your company.
Recent studies have shown that companies that prioritize customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors. It’s hard to argue with a number like that!
3. Most companies have a major gap in their strategy.
While the industrial eras of the past all shared a laser-like focus on the pursuit and mastery of efficiency – these core values have not carried through into the modern age. Though initially built on the premise of rapidly building and scaling silos for maximum gain in a minimum amount of time, companies struggling to survive in the age of the customer are discovering that this approach leaves much to be desired in the way of customer experience.
Ahlfeldt calls this the “customer experience strategy gap”, explaining that while many modern companies have great acquisition strategies, most lack the ability to retain customers in the long term. She urges company leaders to mend this gap with CX strategy alignment, explaining that for a company to reach its full potential, customer experience must be aligned with the company’s broader business goals. Everything should evolve from the customer experience as your company grows and molds around the needs of your customers. Remember, your customer’s success is your success.
4. Everyone works in the service of the customer.
Most people are familiar with the famous Sam Walton quote “There is only one boss. The customer.”, yet many of us forget (or don’t ever fully understand) how this relates to each and every employee, department, team and branch of a company. Pulling from her own experiences as a Customer Experience professional, Ahlfeldt reflects on the many times she’s witnessed back-office teams decline invitations to company meetings when discussing customer-facing issues. She points out that even though a department may not be customer-facing, they still play a major role in the customer experience.
Breaking companies down into three sections, Ahlfeldt defines these sections as “leadership”, “the engine room” and “customer-facing”. Digging into the importance of the engine room team, she explains that though customer-facing teams may have the biggest impact on customer experience on a day-to-day basis, the “middle” teams have a significant impact as well and contribute to the customer experience in many powerful ways that are often overlooked by company leaders.
Organizational accountability across all teams is the only true way to ensure the proactive involvement of these middle teams. When everyone is properly engaged in the service of the customer, everyone is rowing in the same direction and the customer experience improves tremendously.
5. A strong culture makes a strong company.
It’s been said many times in many ways, but it never gets any less true. A strong, clearly-defined company culture builds a strong team with strong values. Likewise, a weak, poorly-defined culture makes for a confused and unmotivated team, lacking the strong sense of passion and pride that makes great teams, well, great. The power of a strong company culture is the running theme throughout this entire webinar, and Customer Experience in general.
A deep appreciation for your customer and a desire to meet their every need is a key aspect of any strong company’s culture, and no company can be truly customer-centric without this dedication. In the age of the customer, nothing could be more important than engraining customer centricity into the very fiber of your company’s culture, and making it a shared KPI across every department.
And remember, if you don’t define your company’s culture – it will define itself. Take an active role in building a culture that you can be proud of and a culture that everyone can believe in.
What are some of your takeaways?
Did you attend this webinar? Let us know if you have any takeaways of your own, or if you have any questions or comments about the ones we listed above.
Thanks for reading!