Networking for businesses that serve consumers used to be so simple. When all the network needed to do was provide customers and employees with basic voice and data connections, choosing a communications service provider (CSP) had little if anything to do with its effect on the customer experience. Criteria for selecting a CSP tended to look like this:
Now that everyone is wired and the consumer experience depends far more on CSP‑delivered services, that criteria looks like this:
That change in CSP selection criteria was front-and-center in a recent customer meeting I attended with a very large houseware retailer. Our solution was ideal for getting them to a highly resilient, “always on” state, and at a much better price point than they were getting from their current CSP.
When I asked the CFO how he would measure the success of the solution they eventually selected, he said something surprising:
“My customers’ experience.”
The surprise is that this came from the CFO. He is responsible for the financial well‑being of a major retail operation, yet was far more concerned about the outcome of his customer’s journey than our service price.
He explained further: “We can always capture the sale, but if we can’t check inventory to ensure we have the item in stock, or we can’t check the reservation system to ensure we have someone available to deliver it, the customer leaves the store happy, expecting to get their refrigerator right away. Then we disappoint them later with a notification that they won’t have their refrigerator for a few weeks. We’ve probably lost them to a competitor – and caused a problem for ourselves.”
Thanks to social media, the disappointed customer’s voice is now amplified. Their positive – or negative – experience will influence other prospects, helping or hurting overall brand and reputation.
So, the CFO knew clearly and instinctively that our solution had to be “customer‑centric” first and foremost.
That houseware retailer isn’t unique in this regard. Thanks to digital engagement, we’re all now operating in the Age of the Customer.
Is your own CSP delivering on the promise of customer experience?
Maria Marino has lead product and customer experience innovations for over 20 years. She was worked in both the U.S. and European markets in a variety of technology and communications firms including MCI, Level 3, CenturyLink and now Windstream. Her passion is customer centricity, and bringing the voice of the customer into the DNA of an organization. At Level 3, she launched the company’s first wholesale Internet offering and first VOIP services. At CenturyLink she ran Customer Experience for the Enterprise division, launching new tools for customer listening including customer communities, and introduced methods like customer journey mapping to drive product innovation and design, and the requisite support models. Maria uses a formula of primary research to drive a deep understanding of the customer and the job they are trying to get done, coupled with the operational design to deliver, to drive market differentiation. She is currently Vice President of Enterprise Customer Experience at Windstream.
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