Success Monday: How to Win the Hearts of Customers Who Have More Choice Than Ever

Salesforce.com claims to be the world’s No. 1 customer resource management firm, and Brian Millham is celebrating his 20th year with the company this year. His current title is president of the Customer Success Group at Salesforce, and here, he lays out some steps that you can take—with the help of technology available to you—to build and maintain your customers' loyalty.

President, Customer Success Group at Salesforce

“Have you ever switched to a different café in the morning because the service at your usual place wasn’t quite right? Or have you decided to not buy an item you needed when shopping online because the website was moving at a snail’s pace? We’re all guilty of it. As consumers, we’re increasingly disloyal—so it makes sense that your customers may be, too. 

I’ve been meeting with Salesforce customers for 19 years and the one thing that’s stayed constant is that businesses everywhere want to stay close to their customers’ needs and wants. They want to keep their customers loyal. In Salesforce’s recent North Star Report, which surveyed over 500 Salesforce customers, we found that 40 percent of those who prioritize digital transformation agree that improving customer experience is a main objective.

So it’s time to go beyond just thinking about general “customer centricity.” You must examine closely what changes you need to make for your customers.

Making a change

Every customer is different and you need to be able to personalize every interaction they have with your company—gone are the days of one-size-fits-all. But before going any further, you must have the tools in place to create a 360-degree view of your customers in order to truly enrich and improve their experience.

In retail, for example, you can’t ignore the ongoing unification of the online and in-store experiences. The alignment of these two elements can be extremely powerful when done correctly, creating the ultimate personalized shopping journey as customers browse and purchase. Giving customers the freedom to buy online and pick up at their local store is just one way to create a great retail experience.

This is your opportunity to really win customer hearts and minds—and create enduring loyalty. Customers want to get involved with the brands they love, so providing a platform that enables this is a way to ensure they keep coming back.

Take a closer look

In addition, customers also want brands to be one step ahead by predicting their needs rather than meeting them when required. Analyzing purchase data and customer service interactions, for example, is one way to uncover important insights. Technologies like AI (artificial intelligence) are revolutionizing this process by automating analysis and generating deep and valuable insights about trends and behaviors. This data can then be used to inspire tailored offers or product suggestions, giving brands the edge while enthralling customers with an intuitive service.

This provides an understanding of customer trends and behaviors regionally that allows for businesses to plan strategically and streamline their operations. This could include managing stock levels effectively and reducing disappointment at checkout, which ultimately helps maximize sales.

Teamwork makes the dream work

You’re only ever going to have a full view of your customer if there’s a truly collaborative way of working within your business. As Mirko Gropp, the Head of Global Digital Sales Transformation at Telstra, indicated in our report, this kind of approach requires “profound changes to a company’s operating model.” By working in close partnership with IT to implement the right technologies, you’ll be able to provide your customers with the enhanced experience they demand.

Meeting face-to-face with your team and sharing goals and objectives for a particular customer will help ensure customer success.

In addition, teamwork must be a mantra that runs throughout the business as organizations hurry to embark on their own digital transformation journeys or achieve compliance. There’s a natural aversion to change that must be addressed to ensure that teams and departments understand why they need to use the new systems, rather than sticking to the “old ways” of doing business. When they understand how the new technologies will help them get their job done, they’re more likely to climb on board.

And with new systems in place, it’s easier for businesses to learn and understand what customers want and need—even before they know themselves. When that happens, businesses can present consumers with the choice that’s perfect for them—and keep those customers delighted and coming back for more.”

Brian Millham is president of the Customer Success Group for Salesforce.com.