Emerging technologies and practices create an opportunity for companies to rebuild and strengthen their intimate, personalized connection with the customer. But, as such platforms and strategies begin to gain the attention of CEOs and senior-level executives, these new channels and devices have also come to empower customers, allowing them to share both positive and negative brand sentiment with friends, family, and the entire world. To counteract the potential backlash, companies across industries are rethinking their current strategies as they look to these tools to improve employee engagement and the customer experience.
According to The Economist Intelligence Unit's "The Rise of the Customer-Led Economy" report, more than 80 percent of executive believe that facilitating connections between customers, employees, partners, and products would ultimately enhance overall customer satisfaction and experience. Sponsored by salesforce.com, the global study polled 1,300 executives across 90 countries to explore how current customer behaviors and trends have impacted the average company's approach to engagement and communication. Customers now hold much power and influence, and businesses understand that they must follow their lead to achieve success.
The following statistics examine how companies are adapting to the customer-led economy and which tactics are essential for improvement:
- Nearly 89 percent of the top-performing companies polled have responded to these emerging markets by adopting new strategies for enhancing the customer experience, citing the desire to increase customer loyalty (27 percent) and competitive pressure (24 percent) as their primary motivators.
- Currently, company websites (57 percent), email (37 percent), and social media (27 percent) are the most important customer engagement channels. However, social media (43 percent) and mobile apps (41 percent) are expected to gain momentum and dominate the space within the next three years.
- When it comes to companies striving to rethink how they connect with customers, uncertainty about which channels and technology will dominate (40 percent) presents the biggest challenge.
- Forty percent of companies have invested in technologies that connect their customers with customer-facing staff, while 44 percent have invested to improve connections among employees.
- Over the next three years, companies expect increased investment in enterprise social networks (41 percent), document creating and sharing (35 percent), and internal mobile apps (33 percent) as they work to improve connections among employees.
- With 41 percent of respondents claiming to already have some type of "connected product" on the market, most are making the investment to improve customer engagement, with better customer service (55 percent), superior customer experience (51 percent), and competitive necessity (45 percent) driving their initiatives forward.
Key takeaway: If companies are to gain an edge in today's competitive market, they must become pioneers of change. Top-performing businesses are already beating their peers, as they have embraced the rapidly evolving technological landscape by investing early. These companies recognize that such technologies and systems are typically most effective when deployed in a unified manner. Therefore, such businesses rarely wait to see which approach works, as they strive to invest widely and coherently. By bringing advanced strategies to every element of the enterprise, these companies form one cohesive approach that promotes consistency throughout the customer experience. Those companies that hesitate to integrate new strategies risk being left behind.