I’m really excited to share this interview I did with Steve Olenski which was originally featured on Forbes. The original article can be found here
Anyone who has made a purchase online in the last decade has felt the impact of the online economy. We are more self sufficient than ever before. We do our own research, ask our friends and make purchases based on the wide world of information available to us.
This trend isn’t going away anytime soon, in fact, we may be at the very beginning of a world where information asymmetry is putting buyers and sellers on equal footing, perhaps even putting the buyer at an advantage.
In his new book The New Rules of Customer Engagement, 6 Trends Reinventing The Way We Sell, Daniel Newman drives home not just the trends, but what they mean for business and those responsible for driving revenue and creating satisfied customers, i.e. those in the marketing space.
I spoke with Daniel, who happens to be a friend and a fellow Forbes contributor, to get right to the heart of the matter; to learn more about these new rules of customer engagement and much more.
Steve Olenski: The book starts out talking about a New World with New Rules, explain what you mean by that?
Daniel Newman: Basically we have entered a world where sometimes more than 90% of a sale is complete before a customer engages sales. This means that people are interested in finding information in a new way and that the old “Trusted Advisor” that was once sales are losing applicability. This is especially true if they are still trying to sell the way they did 10 or 20 years ago. Today the average buyer engages with nearly a dozen pieces of content before they pick up the phone or visit a retail store. This means businesses need to invest in being a part of that first 70, 80 or 90 percent and the old hiring more sales people to cold call just isn’t going to cut it.
Olenski: You challenge the idea of immediacy and that consumers want everything “now.” What is shaping this trend?
Newman: When I started researching the book I knew I wanted to talk about how social customer service and real time marketing were impacting business. It didn’t take long for me to find data points that showed just how true this is. I had no idea that nearly 2/3 of people expect same day responses to their online inquiries. Further, nearly a third expect a response in 30 minutes.
In the past there used to be this separation of B2B and B2C where those quick responses we expected in B2C weren’t necessarily expected in B2B. But today we have endless outlets to communicate when we have an issue and our expectations are being set by our best experiences in all of consumer activity. Essentially changing the landscape of B2B and B2C into one ubiquitous experience that I refer to as P2P (Peer to Peer).
Olenski: A lot of your book focuses on your industry experience (Tech and Communications), do you feel your trends span beyond those industries? Moreover, is this book valuable to people in any industry?
Newman: While it is always hard to speak with certainties outside of your own experience, I can genuinely say that as a consumer and part of the P2P group, I truly believe this book is relevant for businesses of all types. It isn’t just tech or services buyers that are being affected by the way people use information in their buying journey. I actually start the book out talking about buying a car, but that could be replaced by the selection of a restaurant, or finding a plumber. Everything we do is different in a highly informed and connected world. I definitely lean on my experience and the experience of those I quoted in the book, I feel very safe in saying that most industries can benefit from better understanding these trends and applying them to their business.
Olenski: In the end you come back to customer experience over everything else. This is a fairly well understood topic. Why do you think CX is such an important topic?
Newman: There are two major pieces of data I found in my research that made this unequivocally the most important trend. First, that businesses rarely recognize how much more expensive it is to acquire new customers than it is to keep their current customers (6:1) and since customers leave almost five times more often for bad customer service than they do for bad product, it became abundantly clear businesses needed to focus on retention. Second, customer experience is a true opportunity to differentiate which is important in a world of choice. For most businesses products and services are very hard to differentiate on but being great at customer experience is something that almost any business can put a plan together to achieve.
When it comes to differentiation, more than 80% of businesses believe they are differentiated; yet only 8% of their customers feel the same. This giant disconnect furthers the need for customer experience oriented businesses. As I like to say, in a world or ordinary and mediocre, people remember great, and that is about it.
For those of you who lead businesses, sales teams or marketing departments, this book is a solid read. It is quick and the tone is conversational, traits that I admire for sure. If it doesn’t spark you to at the very least think hard about how you are adapting to a shifting buyers journey, then your business is either ahead of the curve or your head is buried in the sand.