For most customers, table stakes include a fair price, good service, and good products as well as feeling valued for their business. But table stakes, particularly in this time of inflation and economic uncertainty, are simply not enough if you want to accelerate your growth and retain your customers. So, what is needed? In a word: dazzle. That’s right, you must dazzle your customer base to truly harness the growth potential in your industry, area of expertise, and geography.
On the end-user customer journey, there are many points to consider when building your customer dazzle strategy. But today, I want to talk about the four main points of business consideration that can support, extend, and step up your strategy across your firm for maximum results.
Partners are a key tool for creating and sustaining dazzle, but they are also a risk to your strategy.
Breaking Down Partner Engagement
Think about a simple partner engagement; one who is a provider of technology. Let’s assume that partner uses a platform to manage your IT, a platform commonly referred to as an RMM. Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools are used for managing a computer or a network from a remote location. This tool gives the administrator control over the network, which involves installing software and managing all activities on the systems, networks, workstations, servers, or endpoints of a client.
This approach can significantly improve your employee, customer, and even customer of your customers’ experience. By providing seamless technology available remotely and monitored for performance, you can address issues such as websites being down, applications not working, or availability before they impact your experience.
How Can Partnerships Present Risks?
However, these very same platforms also represent a risk — especially to your security posture. Once a third party is empowered with access to your most critical customer-facing data and systems, the risk of a breach, for example, is increased.
The very same partner and tool that lent to your improved customer experience can lead to a truly horrible experience if their systems are shut down by ransomware, or if customer-sensitive data is hacked. That’s why it is so important now to check your partner’s platform of choice and how they provide their services to your firm, ensuring they are not increasing your risks through their own deficient security practices.
A New Approach to Partnerships
Therefore, to ensure the best customer dazzle, and protect downside risks, many firms are now working in a different manner with their partners. They are working on shared goals, as well as shared risks, to ensure that everyone has the same stake in success and risks. They are often insisting that their managed service providers (MSPs), which often provide remote services, use a trusted platform for collaboration, rather than their own home-grown versions.
This is something that requires a new approach to partnering, one that is more nuanced and more complex, but worthwhile. We all understand that in a digital age, we can’t possibly anticipate providing customer dazzle without some partnerships. Those partnerships need to be designed in the C-Suite, including the CISO, and ran as an important part of the business versus being relegated to the simple processes of partner management in the past.
When you approach partnering this way, you actually create “partner dazzle” where your partners are more willing to work with your firm and have a preference for your partnership over others they might have — that’s magic!
What about our vendors? After all, they supply things to us, or through us, that help us provide things for our customers.
Let’s stick with that previous IT example for a moment. Whether you are an IT partner reading this or an end-user customer, the reality is that the vendor solutions that are now in the market for digitization are changing the customer experience forever. Long gone are the days when you had to start over an entire web form visit because you had a question. Now, contact center representatives have the capability to visit the form side-by-side on video, with customers helping them complete transactions and limiting frustrations.
Possible vs. Probable
AI platforms are transforming how we serve our customers. With the right data and the right insights, it seems almost anything is now possible. The issue is whether it is probable.
Possible takes my time and money. Further, it could positively or negatively impact my customer experience. Meanwhile probable means it has a high probability of working as intended and will positively impact my customers. This means we can’t fall in love with our vendors’ sales pitches. We must fall in love with their probabilities.
A New Approach to Vendors
With all this innovation, it’s entirely too easy to get lost in the art of the possibilities. Doing endless pilots and leaving the probability of success in the rear-view mirror, we must fight against this tendency. Working with vendors on business outcomes changes this game to one we can win.
High-growth firms are changing how they select, work with, and deploy vendor solutions to address just this issue. As a result, they end up dazzling both their vendors and their end-user customers with solutions that work, not just have the potential to work.
3. Your Customers
The gold standard for all companies is their customers. That’s why we are in business, right? But creating a dazzling experience for our customers has never been harder.
The Era of Customized Experiences
Expectations are getting higher and higher. Costs are skyrocketing. Delivery models are changing. In this environment, having the right focus on the right customers can really make a difference.
Long gone are the days when we could “normalize” the customer experience into a simple customer journey map or a simple customer care program. We are now firmly in the era of customized experiences. This puts a stress on our plans to even service our customers, much less dazzle them.
A New Approach to Customer Relationships
Smart high-growth firms are changing their approach to their customer relationships. They are often empowering other customers to help provide their dazzle.
Think about another simple example: the Amazon ‘reviews’ and ‘customers also bought’ features on Amazon.com. These features were unheard of when they launched. Now, empowered by AI and deep data, they are almost customized to your needs when you are shopping on the site. Next time you are on Amazon, check out the reviews for some of the products; they are far more in-depth and tend to be wittier than the marketing teams of the companies could have come up with themselves. They also add invaluable customer insights to the sellers on Amazon.
Every business should be thinking about how they use technology and tools to help their customers delight and dazzle their customers.
4. Your Customers’ Customers
Finally, no 4-point review would be complete without the customers of our customers. If you are a B2B firm, you are well familiar with this customer set — you sell not to the end user, but to someone who sells to the end user.
As such, you must provide a flawless solution that can be used or translated for use in the customers’ customer environment. This requires not only studying the industry you sell to, but also the customer set that they sell into to ensure your solution features elements that can dazzle the ultimate user.
A New Approach to the Customers’ Customer Environment
This starts with understanding how your solution is used and ends with getting real feedback on real-world deployments and the challenges and opportunities for improvement.
Too often, we try to hide under the proverbial rock and not look at the ultimate user, hoping that no news is good news — news flash: It never is. No news is no news. And no news is dangerous.
Invest now in understanding the customer delight levels of your customers’ customers, digging deeply into not just their user experience, but also how they selected the provider, what churn (turnover or loss) looks like, who their competitors are, and how they compare. Through this deeper knowledge, you can bring back customer dazzle recommendations to your product, go to market and services team, and really impress your existing customers — all because you can help them with their customers.
The bottom line in customer dazzle is important to your bottom line (pun intended). In all things, be sure to consider these four points — partners, vendors, your customers, and your customers’ customers — and work to address each of them in your firm for maximum results. Also, be sure to attend our session with Kris Blackmon at Cloud Wars Expo for more information about how to use your ecosystem to win.
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