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Not all customers are happy. And some of those unhappy customers might be yours. Customer satisfaction is at a 9-year low, according to a recent report. For anyone in the service industry, this probably isn’t surprising. Customers are savvier than ever; they want answers to their questions immediately through the channels of their choice.

The solution to lackluster customer experiences lies in the merging of human creativity and adaptive technology that puts the priority back on to what matters: the customer. Some companies fall in line with this new world order by establishing executive positions dedicated to customer experience, such as Chief Experience Officer (CXO), Chief Customer or Client Officer (CCO), and Chief Success Officer (CSO).

Customer-focused executives exist to improve the customer experience overall. They see to it that a buyer’s experience is consistent—and better than expected—throughout every part of an engagement. They are tasked with turning one-time customers into lifetime fans.

And recent research reveals that customer executives are on the rise, suggesting that business decision makers are meeting the demand for a more “experience-focused” business approach.

Build a customer service strategy for the next decade

Customer service execs are on the rise

The chief in these types of positions drives customer strategy at the highest levels of an organization. The number of CCOs (and other related titles) around the world has grown from less than 10 in 2000 to more than 400 in 2014, according to the Chief Customer Officer Council (CCOC). Ten percent of Fortune 500 companies have adopted the CCO role, and that number is increasing.

Though CCO roles tend to be more prevalent in technology sectors, worldwide adoption is on the rise. And Gartner reveals that 89 percent of companies plan to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016, so we have the makings of a customer service revolution.

Follow the four steps to future-ready customer service

Advocates for change

Although the majority of companies are not aligned to deliver seamless customer service, the leaders of the pack are already taking note—and most of those are leveraging the power of existing CRM solutions and adapting them to customer service use cases:

•In 2012, CRM usage among B2B lead buyers was at a mere 56 percent.

•A year later it had grown to 74 percent.

•Today more than 65 percent of organizations have the equivalent of a customer executive on staff.

An example of how CRM has boosted customer service presence

Here’s a real example that demonstrates the power of CRM to revolutionize customer service.

In an effort to meet its customers wherever and whenever they need to interact, US telecommunications company nTelos Wireless launched an online customer support center in 2014. Data and analytics from the company’s CRM solution helped nTelos Wireless zero in on the most common support requests to the contact center, so it could then expand the self-service knowledge base in exactly the ways the customer needed. Right away, the results were significant:

•Calls to the support center dropped 12.5 percent per subscriber in just one year.

•Wait times were reduced.

•And the company’s churn fell to what it was four years prior.

 By paying attention to its customers’ needs and answering their unspoken plea—”give us an opportunity to help ourselves online”—nTelos Wireless brought about a positive change in both customer loyalty and the bottom line. A customer-focused executive has the vision and the voice to make that happen.

Happy customers have a voice on the inside

For any company among the 89 percent that see customer experience as a key differentiator in the years to come, the path is clear: it’s time to put an executive in place who will spearhead the alignment of business process to go above and beyond customer expectations.

Customer experience executives armed with knowledge, motivation, and power can make strategic moves at the corporate level to reverse that downward trend in customer satisfaction. Each day, they work toward one primary goal: make customers happy. And loyalty, naturally, will follow.

Make customer experience your key differentiator

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