There are plenty of businesses who talk about being ‘customer centric’. But there are also plenty of customers who would tell you too many organisations are better at making such claims than delivering on them.
Now more than ever it is vital organisations do more than just say the right things. Almost every industry has been disrupted by brands courting customers with innovative products and services. In turn that has raised customer expectations. They want more digital offerings that provide greater choice and personalisation and access to services on their terms. This puts brands under pressure to digitally transform and give customers what they want, or risk losing them.
These pressures aren’t only felt by consumer-facing businesses. Companies selling to other businesses are also under pressure to transform. Research conducted by Grand View Research suggests 70% of business-to-business buyers would switch suppliers if the overall digital experience was better with another organisation.
This year has also seen the additional disruption wrought by COVID-19. The economic impact of the pandemic has left businesses exposed. There’s never a good time to lose customers, but doing so now could be catastrophic. COVID-19 has also dramatically accelerated trends in customer behaviour, such as the move to digital which was well advanced and already threatening to leave some brands behind pre-pandemic.
So how can an organisation go about putting its customers at their heart of what they do, and what changes do they need to make?
If an organisation is serious about great customer experience then personalisation is critical, and personalisation at scale requires data.
According to ‘The Future CMO’ report, created by The Times and Raconteur, only 55% of marketers believe they have sufficient data for personalisation. In order to turn this around organisations must embrace the collection, analysis and understanding of customer data. Only by developing a clear, consistent understanding of customers can they start delivering exceptional experiences.
One organisation that has benefited significantly from doing so is professional services specialist Capita.
After almost four decades of winning new clients and expanding its services, Capita had established six different divisions. The company had also grown through acquisition, taking on new companies, people and procedures. All of these signs of success however created internal complexity and challenges. One such challenge was the existence of 34 different customer relationship management systems and multiple marketing automation tools (MAT) across the organisation, making it almost impossible to build a clear picture of their customers, and to maintain a consistent brand identity across customer touchpoints.
PwC worked with Capita to bring together data from across its business and consolidate its 34 CRM systems into one single CRM and marketing automation platform.
Antonia Wade, CMO, Capita, says: “At this critical time, it is more important than ever that we transform to support our customers. At Capita we are completely focused on investing in our people, our digital technologies, breaking down any separations across digital, marketing and sales such that we are entirely focused on creating insightful, intimate and trusted customer relationships.”
“At this critical time, it is more important than ever that we transform to support our customers."
The vast majority (85%) of CMOs believe their prospects and customers expect a personalised experience. That is according to research from Evergage. Yet only 68% of marketers feel they’re getting personalisation right. To close this gap, businesses must invest in meaningful customer experiences, obsess about consumer needs and cultivate valuable engagement between the brand and individual.
“Brands who want to stand out, increase customer loyalty, reduce churn, increase revenue, all have to think about personalisation. They must analyse their data and use it to identify opportunities to improve customer experience. If they don’t, somebody else will.”
In a crowded marketplace, where customer satisfaction is hard won and challenges abound, this approach is all the more important. Few industries fit that description better than the UK utilities sector.
Shell Energy Retail has ambitious plans for growth in the UK. However, inefficient data management and legacy technology made it difficult for departments to deliver personalised services.
PwC worked with Shell Energy Retail to implement Salesforce Sales Cloud as the CRM system for the client and organise data into one efficient, easily accessible cloud-based solution. And Marketing Cloud integration meant Shell Energy Retail could create tailored, personalised and automated customer communications. So Shell Energy Retail was able to nurture its existing customer base with renewal offers or upsell additional products, as well as identify and acquire new customers with appropriate, timely messages.
Ed Kamm, Chief Commercial Officer, Shell Energy Retail, says: “Our customer expectations are continually changing. To meet these ever rising expectations, omni-channel behaviours and hyper connectivity we needed to become a truly customer centric, data led and digitally enabled organisation. At Shell Energy Retail we continue to invest in integrating our Marketing, Sales and Service experience, while leveraging advanced analytics to create the insight our employees need to deliver increasingly powerful experiences for customers."
The customer lifetime value for Shell Energy Retail is now significantly higher. Marketing messages can be used to reach customers at precise stages of the customer journey, whether to renew a contract or promote a different product. Sales teams have more background information on customers such as previous issues or contract history, which enables an enhanced level of personalised service.
"Our customer expectations are continually changing. To meet these ever rising expectations we needed to become truly customer-centric, data-led and digitally-enabled."
As we have seen with both Shell Energy Retail and Capita, customer-led transformation isn’t just a tech play. Change must also be applied to people and processes. Breaking down operational silos across sales, marketing and service is as vital as consolidating data silos.
For example, in the case of Capita, PwC helped restructure the marketing department, moving from seperate teams across divisions, to one central team. But internal restructuring must transcend all parts of the organisation. Getting the organisation to pull together and put the customer-first must start with a customer centric leadership team and cascade from there through every part of the business.
“Change that only affects one part of the business, or addresses only one part of the complicated customer experience mix, is never going to amount to effective customer-led transformation. Change needs to be cultural and technological and that requires buy-in at every level, in every team.”
UK business software vendor Sage was another organisation that wanted to increase its emphasis on the customer to minimise customer churn.
Sage engaged PwC to identify improvements that could be made and to conduct practical coaching sessions with agents and team leaders. This gave employees new technical skills, improved productivity and enhanced interactions between the employee and customer. The first phase of this project led to significant results in just a few weeks. Teams became more engaged, productivity was up 70% and customer satisfaction and retention improved.
Having improved customer interaction, the next step for Sage was to review and renew their technology stack and underpinning strategy to ensure the company was set up for long term customer success.
As we have seen, changing an organisation to become more customer centric requires an approach that addresses the need for cultural change and the rethinking of internal processes and structures, as well as the inevitable role technology can play in making a consistent, measurable customer centric approach scalable.
Simply stating a commitment to customers, or merely addressing one of the above elements cannot deliver the level of change required to truly consider an organisation customer centric.
Organisations must commit to a true customer-led transformation.
To discuss any of the topics raised in this article, please get in touch.