Customers have evolved. Just like the technology today.
In the last few decades, technology has made giant strides in every field imaginable. How many of us even remember the early days of connecting to the Internet via a telephone line? Today, we can’t imagine our life without WiFi, broadband, and smartphones. With newer technology, the world has shrunk, and this is changing the way people conduct business. Information is no longer relegated to dusty files, engaging with clients has become simpler, and products can be ordered at the click of a button and be delivered your doorstep.
While the ‘customer is king’ adage does go back a long way, businesses now have become more customer-focused than ever. Today’s customer is very well connected and makes informed decisions before investing in a product or solution, and businesses are mindful of that. They also face challenges in understanding how to grow their customer base and engage with existing customers at the same time.
These formed the crux of the discussion at a recent Salesforce-YourStory meetup which took place in Bengaluru on October 6. 2017, with experts and investors taking the audience through how they could successfully establish meaningful and long-lasting customer relationships.
Speaking at the event, Sanjeev Saha, Manager of Emerging and Small Businesses, Salesforce India, said, “At Salesforce, we believe that the thought process behind growing a company is changing. If you want to build credibility, you have to do more than just finding the right customer. You also need to add the right kind of people to the organisation, and revolve everything around giving your customers the best experience.”
For a company to grow, some basic aspects need to be in place. Prabhakar Reddy, early-stage investor at Accel Partners, explained a few of them in the panel discussion that took place, “As an organisation, you need to make sure that you hire the right kind of people. If you don’t, chances are that you’ll have a culture problem at the workplace.”
Another important challenge that companies face as they scale is prioritising. This includes marketing strategies, ensuring customer satisfaction, product quality, and the like. Reddy added, “Once you start scaling, they key to further growth is to make sure that your main customers are happy with you. A lot of companies fall behind on this - they focus only on the new customers coming in and forget about their existing customer base.”
That being said, the new companies on the block also need to focus on their costs and money saving tactics. Like Reddy said, “Your costs should be inversely proportional to the rate of your customer acquisition.”
Some of the most successful companies like Amazon, Uber, Google and American Express among others, are where they are because of how they treat their customers. Suchita Vishnoi, Director of Marketing at Salesforce India, shared an important mantra in this context. “Our CEO Marc Benioff has always stuck by these words - Our customers are part of our extended ohana (Hawaiian word for ‘family’). That’s the kind of importance we give to customers, and that’s the kind of culture that has us moving forward,” she said.
Being customer-oriented also comes with the kind of culture that exists in an organisation. According to Saloni Arya, Product Manager at Jumbotail, work culture is not something that should change as you scale. The company should abide by the same values even when they’ve grown. She says, “At Jumbotail we’ve had our core values ingrained in us since day one. These values govern how we do things, and they’re part of our everyday conversations. You can’t have a work culture if you don’t have your values in place.”
In short, the takeaway from the meetup can be summed up through this Walt Disney quote: “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” This is especially relevant in today’s social media-powered world. A single unhappy customer tweeting a complaint about your product or service could adversely impact your business. This is exactly why nurturing relationships with your customers is crucial for success and maintaining a positive brand image.
Here is where customer relationship management platforms such as Salesforce can help you keep customers happy. You will still need to make an effort to listen to them carefully, though. Value their time and feedback, and you’ll win yourself a loyal customer right there.