I just read an interesting article in Computerworld about the disruptive force of the digital business model. According to Michael Porter, a leading authority on competitive strategy, “In any industry, whether it is domestic or international or produces a product or a service, the rules of competition are embodied in five competitive forces: the entry of new competitors, the threat of substitutes, the bargaining power of buyers, the bargaining power of suppliers, and the rivalry among the existing competitors.”
The article goes on to say that perhaps the force with the most impact on industry competition is the bargaining power of buyers, since the “biggest driver of digital business comes from the needs and expectations of consumers and customers themselves.”
The bargaining power of buyers” was a phrase that really stuck with me. Think about it, today’s consumers and customers have tremendous power. We vote with our dollars, we speak up when we’re not happy, and if we’re not satisfied we can easily go elsewhere.
For example, I always used to buy my appliances from the same place, but was increasingly unhappy with the quality and service I received. I reached out to the company about some issues I was having and got an unsatisfactory response. So I posted a comment on Facebook about it and received several suggestions for other places to shop. Since then, I have not bought anything from that company. I read a few days ago that their holiday sales were down and they may be up for sale.
I buy a lot of my clothes from the same retailer because they make it easy – I get email notifications of sales on my iPhone, I can filter what I want to look for, read reviews and make decisions based on other’s comments, and buy what I want, all from my smartphone while lying in bed (I just did this last night at 11:30 because I’d gotten an email that the sale was ending at midnight. It would’ve been irresponsible to pass that up!).
The whole point of mentioning those examples is because if you take the buying habits of one typical consumer and multiply that by millions of other consumers, it’s easy to see that “the bargaining power of consumers” means that providing a world-class customer experience is more critical now than ever.
Here’s another important point, the technology that makes spending easy and creates loyalty in the B2C environment doesn’t stop there. B2B customers want – and expect – the same thing. Constituents have the same expectations of their local, state and federal government agencies. And like consumers, they are equally frustrated when their needs aren’t met.
Here are three key considerations that businesses and government agencies should keep in mind when creating their digital customer experience strategy:
- Make it easy – provide your customers with the information they need, when they need it, and make it easily searchable. According to 2015 Forrester research, 70% of customers preferred web self-service over speaking to a company representative. Gartner estimates that “80% percent of organizations that fail to plan their self-service implementations will incur higher customer service costs and will not achieve the savings and benefits expected”! But a word of caution about self-service: don’t make it impossible for customers to reach out to a representative for help. Your customers don’t want to have to call you, but they want to be able to if they need help.
- Make it mobile – Customers want the same great experience regardless of the device they are using. Two thirds of American adults own a smartphone (up from 58% in 2014), and 91% of them keep their smartphone within arm’s reach. Your mobile strategy is a critical component of your overall digital strategy.
- Remember them – If a customer has been in contact with anyone in your organization in any manner, track that. Attach emails, chats, etc. to the customer record. There is nothing more frustrating for your customers then having to start all over explaining their situation. Additionally, having a 360 degree view of your customers provides valuable insight for your organization.
Is your company offering a world-class digital customer experience? If not, we can help. Reach out to us today.