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How to be Customer Centric with Salesforce Commerce Cloud

JANUARY, 2023

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Delivering outstanding experiences isn’t optional; it’s an expectation. Retailers who adopt a customer-centric approach will ultimately be rewarded with customer loyalty and repeat business.

How to create a Customer-Centric Experience

In the modern marketplace, it’s not enough to offer a great product at a great price. According to Salesforce Research, eight out of 10 customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.

Customer expectations have significantly risen; businesses must provide exceptional customer experience if they want to stay competitive in a crowded digital market. Providing unparalleled customer service before, during and after a transaction means driving engagement and purchases by sending your shoppers on valuable, connected personalised journeys across each channel and touchpoint.

Customer-centric businesses all share one commonality — they obsess over the customer experience.

To meet modern demands, it's imperative to implement a customer-centric approach. Adopting a customer-centric mindset means putting the customer at the heart of everything you do as a business, from marketing to point-of-sale procedures and post-sale follow-ups to optimising customer service touchpoints across every channel.

You must engage with every interaction a customer has with your brand, whether that be through a marketing campaign, customer service conversations, invoices, or deliveries within the supply chain.

Make customer obsession principles part of stakeholder conversations and business strategies during pipeline reviews, within executive meetings, and throughout the entire business development.

Those who oversee the transition to this approach must fulfil their commitment to long-term rewards of customer centricity, regardless of a drop in short-term traditional performance measures such as sales per employee, productivity and return on investment.

This should trickle down from the top; align not only your customers, but your employees and brand culture too. Ensure that every employee within the business has a shared vision of the customers and the role they play in the customer experience. Encourage employees to think about providing an exemplary customer experience rather than what's necessarily good for the business.

The importance of Customer-Centricity

Customer expectations are continuously evolving. Consumers are more informed, tech-savvy and disloyal than their pre-Covid predecessors. In this cost-of-living crisis, product and service value has seen many brands usurped by cheaper alternatives, subsequently diminishing revenues for retailers and manufacturers

This is where a customer-centric approach can prove effective. Consumers are looking for brands that understand their current predicament, and cheaper brands are capitalising on this by tailoring products towards them not only at cheaper price, but via shared values and ethics. Understanding consumers on a deeper level along with comprehending the challenges they face by providing personalised experiences that harness trust will drive engagement.

The catalyst of becoming a customer-centric business is to start with empathy. Anywhere else, and it’s easy to risk misreading the room and actually end up alienating customers. Customer experience impacts the bottom line, whether it's for better or for worse, is up to you.

70% of customers say connected experiences, [including seamless handoffs between departments & contextualised engagement based on earlier interactions] are very important to winning their business.
Salesforce
Trends in Integrated Customer Experiences Report

The same report divulged that 74% of B2B customers and 63% of consumers will pay more for a "great experience."

What is customer-centricity?

Customer centricity isn't exactly a newfound revolutionary approach. The rise of new technology is constantly influencing customer behaviour. Technology like mobile devices, social media, cloud services and AI enable businesses to personalise interactions with consumers with profound dynamism.

The importance of ‘customer centricity’ has been emphasised some time but until recent advancements in the fields above, retailers have lacked both the technology and the insights to connect marketing, sales, service, and commerce systems to enable a 360-degree view their customers.

Traditional approaches to designing new products, services, and experiences usually start from a business-first or technology-first mindset - a customer-centric strategy begins with the user experience.

Now that personalised engagement has solidified itself as a key differentiator, retailers need to invest and deliver on the promise of putting the customer at the forefront of their values. Your brand has to create a mutually beneficial experience that’s personalised, intuitive and frictionless across each and every touchpoint.

For brands with an established customer base (subscribers, app users, etc), this might mean sending personalised recommendations based on their purchasing history as they scroll through the website, social feed or app at home or on-the-go, then receiving a follow-up email the next day offering a discount.

Adopting a customer-centric approach will enable your brand to learn more about every individual customer's needs and respond in real time.

Earning trust is key to customer-centric business models

Customer-centric brands understand that trust has a significant effect on customer loyalty, brand advocacy, and ultimately, sales. Research indicates that shoppers engage and spend more with brands they trust, and are far more likely to recommend them to other consumers, be it from online reviews or word-of-mouth.

Fundamentally, customer experience is powered by data, so building trust with customers is essential. We all know how important a healthy cyber-hygiene is to a business and consumer security alike.

54% of customers don't believe that businesses have their best interests at heart.
Salesforce
Trends in Customer Trust | Report

There are customers who're happy to accept cookies, sign-up to a mailing list email list, and part with their data for a more engaging personal experience. Brands need to reward that trust with transparency regarding how a customer's personal information is gathered, stored, and utilised, and to ensure there are strong privacy policies in place.

Abuse that information to push unrelated or irrelevant products and brands will lose a customer's trust altogether. Unhappy customers may take to social media and review websites to air their grievances to a greater audience, and that can prove detrimental to your brand in an age where savvy consumers tend to do their research before buying a product online.

What does a customer-centric future look like?

We’ll see increasingly progressive brands implement customer-centric strategies and utilise advanced technologies to seamlessly connect all of their customer data, signalling a completely new business strategy for brands as they transition from product-centric to customer-centric.

Businesses will begin integrating advanced AI to collect, analyse and process extensive data into intuitive insights that can anticipate consumer needs. Effectively, they will play the role of a real-time digital assistant, much like Salesforce's revolutionary Einstein AI.

Customers are receptive to brands that utilise AI to improve the retail experience, including live chatbots, text and voice analytics à la Amazon's Alexa, self-service checkouts, and natural language processing. We have seen a surge in brands adopting AI to cater to customers and provide services 24/7.

Wrap

Receiving a highly-personalised experience is becoming a prerequisite for all customers regardless of the brand they engage with.

By embracing a customer-centric approach, and placing the customer at the core of every interaction, brands can create a dynamic, seamless, and uniquely tailored experience for customers that will sow the seeds of future success, and ultimately drives sales and customer loyalty in the long-term.

See how your business can integrate a customer-centric strategy with Salesforce Commerce Cloud with our [Sherwen Studios x Salesforce eBook insert link here].

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Bricks & Mortar Stores vs. Online Retail: How to combine online and offline experiences to improve shopping for your customers

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