Something I’ve learned throughout my career is that it’s hard to achieve success without honing a relationship with the customer—one built on trust and respect. As a leader who has worked with brands across Europe, some of our biggest customers are developed through relationships built on trust first – and our biggest challenges come when we lose that customer trust.
This is only becoming more important in today’s business landscape. Research by ServiceNow and Opinium recently found we’re facing a dip in brand loyalty across EMEA; 76% of consumers claim they’re less loyal to brands now than they were this time two years ago.
Put simply, in order to thrive, organizations need to foster better relationships with their customers. As any business leader knows, however, this is easier said than done.
Customers are so much more than just the purchasers of a product or service: they're business leaders, doctors, teachers, parents, friends, and everything in between. Figuring out what it is they want and need from a business is a fine art. Because it’s rarely as simple as ‘low prices’ or ‘excellent customer service’.
Those things are important, yes. But, nurturing an outstanding customer experience requires a high level of understanding and a solid strategy that stretches throughout the entire organization — from the employee experience, to the supply chain, to back-end operations and beyond. For organizations asking, ‘how do we put customer experience at the heart of everything we do?’ The answer lies in connecting all these areas at once — driving an experience that prioritizes customer and employee experiences simultaneously — to the benefit of the customer.
The right processes are key
My role at ServiceNow revolves around turning customers' wants and needs into reality. That means listening to them and understanding their problems. Doing this involves numerous processes, and how it works is simple; if a process is bad, the resulting outcome is bad.
If your organization consists of many different systems and silos, endless complexity, and slow progress, there's little room left for growth in an environment where everyone is too busy putting out fires. This means you’re likely going to be left with unhappy customers.
Today, speed is a key element in the customer experience. ServiceNow’s survey shows that when selecting a company to purchase from, consumers in EMEA look for organizations that can resolve issues efficiently, with 92% of respondents stating they consider customer service response times to be ‘important’ or ‘very important’.
To be able to meet this demand, business leaders require visibility over what's happening at a very high level, so they can see everyone's problems at once. Then, it’s possible to establish control over their issues or needs so that they’re manageable and traceable. This is what I call a ‘control-tower’ approach.
EX = CX
Improving processes that have a positive impact on employee experience is also a vital piece of the puzzle. There is no customer experience without employee experience. It’s unfair to expect your employees to serve customers to the best of their experience if you’re not giving them all the support they need in order to do that. The two areas are interconnected.
Integrated businesses can help here, too. If we make work easier for our employees – and give them all the tools, data, and systems they need to work as effectively as possible – that means less time spent doing mundane, boring tasks. In turn, this means employees are given more time to focus on what the customer wants and interacting with them.
What’s more, the research shows your customers are paying attention to this. In fact, nine out of ten (90%) consumers in EMEA consider it important that the company they purchase from treats its employees well.
How do we get there?
Making successful workflows requires complete integration at the highest level — the C-Suite. Leaders must use their birds-eye view of operations to gain insight into exactly what’s going on across all operations, identify any issues, and change things where necessary. That requires the right set of tools, used in the right way.
In an integrated environment with full visibility, the tools we can use are far more powerful than ever before. Integrated businesses offer a solid data platform that allows you to make the best use of next-generation tools and technologies like AI, robotic process mining, hyper-automation, and low-code to achieve outcomes that previously seemed impossible.
But it's not enough for organizations to have the right processes and approach, they also need to aim for something. To achieve the best possible customer experience, organizations need a clear and common goal.
The importance of a growth strategy
Growth strategies keep us focused on our goals, ensuring all our efforts are going in the same direction. Take ServiceNow, for example. Customers realize the business value they get with ServiceNow. We help them do more with less. Our growth strategy, therefore, sees us plan to increase subscription revenues to $15 billion+ by 2026.
It's important to keep the customer experience at the heart of this strategy, and that's why we're enhancing the value to current and new customers by working in tandem with them to grow with their needs across our portfolio.
Of course, every goal needs to be measured to be worthwhile. Financials are important but remember: the customer is at the heart of everything. We can measure in dollars, pounds, or euros all we like, but if we don't understand how it affects our customers, we'll never get a true understanding of the impact of what we're doing.
The future of experience
We know that ultimately, great experiences create happy customers, and though the landscape can seem overwhelming, business leaders are also facing a unique opportunity to change for the better, and drive customer loyalty in a way that allows their organizations to thrive.
It’s not an impossible task. Our research shows over three quarters (77%) of EMEA consumers say they would be more loyal to businesses that they feel understand them as a customer, while two thirds (64%) would be more loyal to those that invest in technology to offer a better customer experience. Meeting these demands and connecting processes in a way that puts the customer first is entirely possible for organisations who lay the right foundations.
So, as you go away and think about how to improve the experience in your business, remember these three tips:
- Set up your processes in the right way: use the right platform, break down those siloes, and drive integration.
- Make use of the latest tools available through your platform to drive real business insight and directional change internally.
- Enable your people with those same tools – remove busy work and facilitate value-add tasks that delight customers.
If you get that right, it gives employees more time to better serve customers – your business can better understand those customers, and you can create solutions that more closely match their needs.
And if we make that experience happen at every level and in every organization out there, we're well on the way to creating a much better world.