JP Saunders, Senior Director of Solution Strategy at Oracle, explored the value of customer service and customer experience initiatives in a Thought Leadership Spotlight to Argyle’s Customer Care membership at the 2016 Customer Care Leadership Forum in Toronto on March 23. In his presentation, “Modern Customer Service: Mapping the Journey Ahead,” Saunders examined the past, present and future of customer service and customer experience.
According to Saunders, customer experience is defined as the sum of all interactions a customer has with a brand. This experience encompasses the customer journey — an important consideration for businesses across the globe. And with the right approach to customer service, a company can ensure its clients enjoy a positive customer experience at all times.
Customer experience once existed as a strategy within marketing. But the evolution of social and “voice of the customer” has led many businesses to explore customer experience improvements.
“It’s no longer good enough to just think about the business,” Saunders said. “[Companies] need to think about customers … in order to have attainable, achievable and sustainable growth and profit.”
Differentiation, organic growth and retention commonly rank among the top reasons for businesses to invest in customer experience. When customers say great things about a business, a company can reduce its customer acquisition costs. Thus, customer experience remains exceedingly valuable for companies of all sizes, a trend that appears likely to continue for years to come.
So how are today’s businesses building their customer experience initiatives? Many companies are committing significant resources to marketing and sales. However, customer service sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, despite its importance in helping a company deliver outstanding customer experiences day after day.
“Service remains this laggard,” Saunders noted. “Three quarters of the interactions of the customer engagements of a brand over a [customer’s] lifecycle are happening in service and support. But those three quarters of interactions you’re having with customers represents about 10 percent of funding.”
“We love customers so much that we take money out of their pockets and use it to go find new customers. It’s backwards.”
Customer service can serve as a key differentiator for a business. It can help a company deliver a better promise to customers, and ultimately, show clients that a business is committed to doing everything possible to keep its customers happy.
Also, customer service may help a business drastically reduce its acquisition costs.
The bottom line is a vital consideration for businesses, particularly when it comes to the costs associated with acquiring and retaining a customer. But with a customer-centric approach, a business will be better equipped to lower its customer acquisition and retention costs.
A company may spend significant amounts of money to develop and deploy a brand promise. But what good is this promise if a company is unable to deliver on it?
Instead, a customer-centric approach empowers a company to explore ways to provide its customers with support they won’t be able to receive elsewhere. It can help a business stand out in a crowded marketplace and bolster its customer retention rates for an extended period of time. Plus, this approach can help a business lower its acquisition costs, and potentially, grow its profits dramatically.
“Marketing departments are literally taking money from service and support,” Saunders said. “We love customers so much that we take money out of their pockets and use it to go find new customers. It’s backwards.”
Customer service cannot be “customer experience roadkill,” Saunders noted. The majority of a business’ future revenue can come from only a small fraction of its current customers, and a company that is dedicated to keeping its clients happy can capitalize on this growth opportunity.
Furthermore, customers rarely will pay full price for a company’s offerings if this business fails to provide dependable customer service. In fact, recent data indicate the majority of consumers will spend more to receive a better experience from a brand.
As such, a company that invests in its customer service can bolster its customer experience levels. Moreover, this business will be better equipped to improve its customer loyalty levels and maintain long-lasting relationships with its clients.
“[Companies] need to think about customers … in order to have attainable, achievable and sustainable growth and profit.”
It also is important for a company to consider time relative to customer service. No customer wants to waste time working with a business, but a company that devotes the necessary resources to improve its customer service can ensure its clients are satisfied with the assistance they receive consistently.
A business should consider the value of its customers’ time, especially relative to customer service. By doing so, a company can explore ways to provide its clients with fast, effective support and improve its customer experience levels.
“The most important thing a business can do is value their customers’ time,” Saunders said. “This is the number one thing.”
In his current capacity, JP drives the go-to-market initiatives for the Oracle CX for Service Cloud offering. As a recognized thought leader, innovator and strategist, JP has over 15 years experience in SaaS, Customer Service, Customer Experience and CRM application development. JP joined Oracle through the RightNow acquisition where he lead the Global Product Marketing team. Prior to that, JP lead Product Management for a Social CRM startup that was part of the Oracle Inner Circle partner program for Oracle CRM Ondemand.