I love history. I like the contrasts that show changes over time about how we live and engage with each other. Things that were once cutting edge for their day are now deemed “quaint” by modern standards. Of course, some of us move faster than others. Take marketing for instance. Many companies today are still following a 19th-century mindset. The idea that a customer moves predictably through a linear progression – from awareness to interest to desire and then to action – still dominates the thinking and behavior of many organizations.
CRM solutions once managed the customer relationship, but they were designed to be inward looking systems. CRM has now become inadequate when it comes to managing the modern and, better informed customer of today.
An explosion of new channels and a proliferation of data have transferred power into the hands of buyers at a rate that has outpaced anything witnessed in the history of commerce. This has made the rise of omni-channel commerce and the opportunity for digital customer engagement across a range of new channels the new benchmark for 21st century business. Today, an extraordinary customer experience (think convenient, consistent, personalized, and agile) can turn a customer into a brand ambassador for your company, advocating positive social references, repeat business, customer loyalty and future sales.
Today, customer interactions are managed proactively in real time with the expectation of continuous contact that communicates a brand’s promise through a range of new mediums. It’s all about managing and delivering a superior customer experience—and the rewards are profitable.
According to Forrester Research, businesses that rank as ‘customer experience leaders’ enjoy a cumulative 43 per cent gain in stock performance over a five year period. In contrast, the same sample of “customer experience laggards” saw a 33.9 per cent decrease in shareholder value over the same period. The move from a market driven by CRM to one underpinned by customer managed relationships (CMR) is at the heart of this shift.
History plays an important part at an individual level as well in terms of consumer behavior. Many organizations have dozens of systems still operating in isolation with little or no integration with the rest of the business. They must have the ability to interpret data to work to gain meaningful insight into a customer’s past behaviors, as well as anticipate each customer’s need and personalize every interaction in real time.
The right solution can help businesses eliminate complexity and keep customers engaged, across any channel. Brands that understand the importance of the customer experience, and are prepared to commit to customer-centric principles are better equipped to expand their bottom line and market share.
Most marketers instinctively understand this and simply need guidance on how and where to get started. Of course, there will always be a handful of organizations that remain stuck in the past or can’t see the bigger picture. No doubt, history will point it out for them in years to come.