The age of customer empowerment has arrived, as evident at IBM's Smarter Commerce Global Summit 2011. The aim of the conference, being held this week in San Diego, is to drive home the importance for companies to successfully optimize their networks, organizations, and strategies on what IBM refers to as the "Buy, Market, Sell, and Service" commerce lifecycle.From what I witnessed, it seems as though companies are achieving the Holy Grail of customer experience: a cross-channel, integrated view of their customers to optimize the customer experience, deliver tailored communications, and streamline operations.
Whirlpool, for example, maintains dialogue throughout a customer's lifecycle. Mark Booth, North American CIO, said the company uses this information to improve a range of things from bettering its products and generating leads.
While Whirlpool tracks customer dialogue across channels, T-Mobile has streamlined data from across channels to improve its e-commerce efforts. Prezemek Czarnecki, director of Web and e-commerce development, discussed T-Mobile's partnership last year with IBM to modernize its e-commerce efforts.
With the ability to now track orders across multiple applications, queue orders prior to submission, manage promotions across the contact center, and apply detailed analytics, Cazrnecki cited improved conversion, a streamlined user experience, higher levels of process automation, better efficiency and time to market. "We believe with simplification you get improved conversion results," he said.
Francine Geist, vice president of enabling systems and strategy, Dun & Bradstreet, said the company took the customer lens and looked at its sales process from the outside-in to find ways to drive improvements. "We found that it wasn't easy to do business with us. So we transformed from the inside-out. What we did is looked to technology and created an order automation system, thereby driving efficiencies in the salesforce and improving the experience for customers."
And Dev Mukherjee, president of Sears Home Appliances, said that businesses must sell in a way that companies want to buy. He said that Sears believes in integrating all data across its business and partners and calls the strategy "Integrated Retail."
Paul Papas, global leader, of Smarter Commerce at IBM, summed up the state of commerce when he explained that the functions of buy, market, sell, and service are inherently linked. To unlock the maximum value for customers, he said that companies must get that right. That involves achieving three components: rethinking the value customers want to get from you, driving more insights to understand customers' needs better, and delivering an impactful experience for them. Papas said, "How you do that at that moment of truth makes all the difference."