2009 Customer Visits


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As many of you know, I do lots of 1-on-1 customer and prospect visits each year. Nothing substitutes for being at the coal face. Here are three top level takeaways from this year’s 150 or so visits:

Changing Titles
In 2008 the highest ranking title of the people I was meeting with included the words “Customer Service” or “Customer Operations”. In 2009, the most prevalent highest ranking title in each meeting was “CEO” or “COO”. Second was “CIO” and in third place was last year’s winner, “VP of Customer Service” (I also saw a number of top marketing execs starting to show up as well). Generally “Customer Service” was always in the meetings, but their boss and IT appearing are significant.

I believe this shift in attendance has to do with the increasing importance of customer experience and the growing recognition that due to globalization, price and product features no longer provide sustainable competitive differentiation, but excellent customer experience does. If you don’t take care of your customers they will leave. Finding new customers is not easy.

Our latest Consumer Survey conducted by Harris Interactive confirmed these findings:

• 86% of US consumers will stop doing business with you after a bad experience.
• 82% of them told their friends about the bad experience.
• The #1 reason consumers recommend you is outstanding service – not price or product quality.
• 60% of consumers will pay more for a better experience…you’d expect this to decrease …in fact, it’s up from 51% in 2007

Social Intensity
Every single customer I met with wanted to talk about how to leverage social networking in a consumer business. Not some of the customers I met with, all the customers I met with. We’ve made our recommendations on how to get started and where the ROI is so I won’t belabor the point, but this development is HUGE. Listening to third party networks and facilitating corporate sponsored communities are quickly becoming table stakes in today’s marketplace.

Government Cloud is Hot
At some point in 2009, governments woke up to Cloud Computing. That is always the way it is though. Work at something for over 10 years and all of a sudden you become an “overnight” success. During 2009 we launched our US Government Cloud, our Department of Defense Cloud and our Canadian Government Cloud offerings to very warm receptions. If you did not know, we have our solutions deployed in government agencies world-wide. In the US we are deployed at many state agencies, every federal executive cabinet level agency and every branch of the DoD.

I am excited to see what I learn in 2010 from my customer visits.

All the best for a Merry Christmas (or other holiday) and a Happy New Year.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Greg Gianforte
RightNow Technologies
A serial entrepreneur, Greg founded RightNow in 1997 and took the company public in 2004 with one of that year's most successful initial public offerings. Greg has grown RightNow to more than 700 employees worldwide and more than $1 million in revenue.


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