15 August 2016

How to Implement a Customer-Driven Service Experience Across Your Organization, With Tiffani Bova

We are excited for Tiffani Bova to present at PTP’s user group later this month. She’ll discuss how service differentiation can fuel growth at a time when customer experience is becoming the new competitive battleground.

20141215_tiffani_bova_0142rTiffani is Salesforce’s Global, Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist and spent 10 years at Gartner as a Vice President, Distinguished Analyst and Research Fellow, covering sales transformation and indirect channel innovation. Over the past decade, she has worked with hundreds of technology companies to develop highly effective growth strategies and innovative go-to-market models.

I caught up with Tiffani while she was on the road for a Q&A on how to implement a customer-driven services experience across the entire organization.

1. What changes do you foresee in the customer experience space come 2020?

While technology has been highly disruptive across industries, what has been far more disruptive are the customers themselves.

As customers have become more comfortable using technology in their consumer and personal lives, it has translated itself into their business life. Customers are now buying products and services online and via their mobile devices in their personal lives – it’s so easy to transact or buy something, that their expectations in their business life are challenging companies to change. Customers become more disruptive as they expect frictionless experiences. The big 6 disruptors, which are driving this disruption are Cloud, Mobile, Social, Big Data, Analytics, and now IoT.

While companies have been using technology to optimize and modernize their businesses for years, those efforts have remained fairly  inwardly focused – meaning how can we do what we need to do, faster, cheaper and more efficiently than we do it today?.

This new empowered and educated customer is now forcing organizations to start from the customer and work backwards into their organization. They used to be worried about what was happening inside their walls, and now technology can make them aware of what’s happening outside, in their customers’ lives, giving them a better view of the health of their business.

2. What advice would you give organizations who want to implement customer experience initiatives across their organization?

Focus on an outside-in approach and not an inside-out approach and use customer experience as a new competitive differentiator. Once we, as organizations, make those decisions, it takes a lot of work to close that gap from the stated company position on customer experience at the executive level all the way down to the way a customer service representative understands their role in delivering a stellar customer experience.

I don’t know if there is always a right first step, but if an organization has any hope of making a successful transformation to a customer-centric organization, it has to start with top level executives, and a commitment from the entire organization that customers will become their “true north” and influence everything they do.

The mistake I’ve seen is organizations say they want to become customer centric, but if they then don’t implement the necessary organizational, cultural and updated KPIs to measure their success and put some formality and process around that statement – then they have no hope of determining whether customer experience is benefiting their organization or not.

To initiate customer experience across your organization, you can…

  • Gain executive agreement that Customer Experience is going to be a focus for the company
  • Once there is agreement, determine what that means to the company and each individual
  • Determine how you will measure success: higher revenue, greater profitability, reduced churn, improved customer satisfaction and / or Net Promoter scores
  • Then, there has to be this very well thought-out cadence of getting everybody behind the concept. It has to become embedded in everything you do. You can’t have one all-staff meeting about customer experience and then the next one about a different topic.

I’ve been at Salesforce for four and a half months. It didn’t matter which event I attended, what meeting I was in – the customer is embedded in everything that Salesforce does. Customer success is just top of mind for everyone. If the customer is having a problem, everyone rallies behind that problem to create a solution. It’s reinforced every day in all communications, in all events, in all media; it is the company’s DNA. Salesforce is unique; we started out that way. For folks who started out with a different focus – it takes work, commitment and a willingness to not let past success get in the way of the change which needs to happen going forward.

3. What recommendations would you make to organizations, running older systems, to leverage some of the disruptive technology, mindsets and business models?

If you are starting with a legacy system or older technology, it’s more of a mindset challenge. Organizations are so used to solving business problems with a waterfall approach, versus a new much more agile, innovative, customer centric approach.

I would never say, completely flip your company on its head. Instead, grab something – a line of business, a product team –  and recast that mindset, align KPIs, and do all of those things for just one product line. And then learn from it: pilot and test, fail, adjust and keep the momentum going.

Since you can’t necessarily rip and replace everything, you must protect existing IT deployments while introducing a new set of initiatives, leveraging some of the new capabilities technology has now delivered to the market.

In short, when you are faced with older technologies…

  • Don’t rip and replace
  • Find areas of your business or product lines that enable you to leverage innovative technology to increase revenue
  • Pilot and test new technology before implementing it large scale

4. Can you share a significant customer experience learning or “ah ha” moment you have had in your career?

In my early days in the technology industry, people had this mindset that B2B and B2C were very different. About 4 years ago, I started digging into the whole future of IT sales. I realized that while there was good progress happening with brands who were focused on B2C, those who were targeting B2B were not using technology to innovate the way they engage their customers. Taking some best practices from B2C companies and applying them to B2B could actually have measurable impact. Especially for those organizations, which were focused on creating great customer experiences in B2B.

If you look at Airbnb, they go straight to the consumer. Uber is the same way; they grew their organization on the consumer. Now, all of the sudden, Uber is integrated into our expense management system making it even easier to use in a B2B context – my consumer and business experience with Uber is seamless, easy to navigate and focused on my needs. They used the consumer to learn, grow and expand their footprint, especially for consumers who want to use them while travelling for work.

My “ah ha” moment was that the things that got us here, will not get us where we need to go. We can’t just understand the need to focus on customer experience, but we need to make different decisions because of this understanding.

Organizations must decide to focus on creating meaningful moments with their customers throughout marketing, sales, and service. Brands are starting to think differently about an experience that a customer has with them, but it has to get much better.

For instance, a new study comes out about Vitamin C. A health food store knows the buying patterns of their customers who purchase Vitamin C – a great experience would be to provide their customers with the study because they want to provide them with valuable and relevant information.

However, you must be careful with how you mix your marketing and sales. You can’t send them the study and then include a coupon at the bottom of the email. It erases trust and creates a counterproductive experience – it dilutes a fantastic brand engagement with an opportunity to sell.

Thinking through each and every customer touch – and how they impact the brand perception and overall experience might actually result in different decisions being made. Looking at touch points by business unit, or product category negates the fact that customers may have many different kinds of relationships with you, and you must find a way to have a single view of your customers to get closer to being customer centric.

For industry news and updates from Tiffani, follow her on Twitter at @Tiffani_Bova and connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tiffanibova.

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Andy Middleton

Andy is a consultant with over 16 years of experience in professional services and systems integration who specializes in planning and implementing customer-centric, multi-channel solutions that increase customer satisfaction, decrease cost, and increase revenue throughout the customer journey. He’s an expert in customer experience and contact center strategies, processes, and technologies.


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