The customer isn’t king… the customer is everything. At least he/she is according to George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research. At last week’s Dreamforce, the CEO of the independent research firm proclaimed the dawning of the Customer Age, a twenty-year period where the customers (not businesses) will wield increasingly more influence and control.
And the notion that the customer’s position is key was central in everything showcased at the venerable cloud event. While Colony may have noted that customers are “becoming unreasonably demanding,” I’d assert that technology is just now catching up with the customers’ long-held desire for immediate gratification.
Whether on center stage or at a vendor booth, it was obvious that delivering selection and speed is prized. Customers have always wanted things “now” and today they can finally get things “lightning” quick. In fact, Salesforce is building their business around that kind of quickness: Lightning is touted as the new Salesforce IoT platform that provides data and insights an instant.
Julie Ask, VP Principal Analyst at Forrester, talked about this need for speed in a different way. She focused on delivering customers “mobile moments,” which are opportunities that can occur anytime, anywhere, on any device. Elsewhere, Sato, a company that produces thermal printers, is looking to quickly respond to service moments. To do this, Sato has developed “SOS”, or Support on Site, which sends information back to the company to ID a printer problem before it occurs. Sato’s goal is zero downtime to keep the production line running. In so doing, Sato not only keeps the customer happy, it also maximizes usage-based revenue. We’ve also put speed up front at Aria, where we’ve built a platform that enables our clients to leverage customer data, then quickly build products and automate offers to respond to “revenue moments.”
In the Customer Age, now isn’t good enough. To be successful you need to be ahead of the curve, which is to say you need to be ahead of the customer. More and more, this is broken down at an individual level, catering to customers’ ever-changing wants, needs, and demands. The evidence from Dreamforce is that companies are charging ahead to meet this expectation.
And the customers will reward those companies that can deliver. Taking advantage of these customer-initiated moments not only results in greater customer satisfaction and retention, but serves as a competitive differentiator.