Customers in the centre, competitors in the dust
No other sector is as disruptive and innovative as the tech industry. While staying ahead of the curve, anticipating the future and keeping an eye on the competition are all good advice, in our line of work, where legacy technology is the one to turbo-charge your business, we like to look at it differently.
Instead of the newest gadget, it’s how you treat your customers that will truly set you apart. According to a Gartner survey, 89% of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience – up from just 36% in 2010. When it comes to staying on top of the tech game, it’s important to remind ourselves that providing an excellent customer experience and reaching true ‘customer centricity’ is just as, if not more, important than the product itself.
Love the problem
A study by Michaelson & Associate reported a whopping 69% of customers leave one business for another if they receive poor customer service. The quality of the product comes a distant second, at just 13%. With this in mind, companies need to listen to their customers and demonstrate that solving their problems is their number one priority, or how Alex Chriss, GM of QuickBooks and serial entrepreneur puts it: “The biggest lesson is this: Don’t fall in love with your solution. Fall in love with the customer problem you’re trying to solve.”
And what better way to understand and ultimately be able to crack your customers’ problems than by providing on-going training to your staff? Because ultimately, it’s the employees that make a company. Training employees at all levels, allows them to gain intimate knowledge of the business processes, and in return enables them to understand and meet customers’ needs. The Association for Talent Development estimates that ongoing training and education at work could increase a company’s income by a staggering 218%, as well as a 24% higher profit margin.
But it’s not just staff training that can ensure you reach true customer centricity. How you manage lines of communication with your customers is also key. And tech companies have been pioneering when it comes to embracing new channels; HP, for example, was the first brand to reach one million LinkedIn followers.
But, according to Wayne Guthrie, co-founder of Fearlessly Frank, social media is about behaviour, not communication. It’s not enough to show off your latest products or the winner of this year’s Christmas jumper competition. Companies need to demonstrate their care for their customers by being responsive, available and willing to deal with their issues. Because a very public complaint from an unhappy customer can damage a brand’s reputation faster than you can say application programming interface. And this is now as important in the B2B world as it is in B2C.
Sometimes, it’s the seemingly small things like having a phone number on your support page, that make all the difference. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average customer still wants to speak to another human being, especially the anxious customer.
Furthermore, business delivery solutions provider Whistle found that over 33% of UK customers still prefer to talk to a service representative over the phone and live chat is equally appreciated. AI might be all the rage, but to match the speed a human can respond to a customer query, AI still has some way to go.
It’s about you
I’m not trying to suggest here that your technology doesn’t matter. In our business, we’re all about developing new tools to bring out the potential of legacy systems, and there’s still a race between our competitors and ourselves to bring out the best product before anyone else. That, however, is just one part of the story. Any organisation that is aiming for a long term relationship, rather than a “drive-by sale”, needs to put just as much investment into its service team as it does into its developers.
Guy Tweedale joined Rocket Software in 2017 as VP Sales for EMEA, responsible for driving growth and ensuring the success of Rocket’s customers in the region. Prior to Rocket, Guy has run EMEA sales and operations for several medium and large technology companies over a career lasting...