REDWOOD SHORES, Calif., Jan. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The top trend for business growth in 2016 is "Welcome to the Age of Peer Power," according to Bill Lee, Founder of the Center for Customer Engagement and Producer of the annual Summit on Customer Engagement.
"Like-minded people are banding together in increasingly creative ways to achieve mutual goals, without waiting on institutions to serve their interests. We've seen this in crowdfunding, microlending, crowdsourcing, successful healthcare initiatives in Africa, the explosive growth of mega churches in America, and other mass movements," said Lee, who unveiled his top 10 trends for 2016 today.
Peer power is rapidly working its way into businesses. Empowered buyers and customers are collaborating in ways that present great threats—and great opportunities.
"Our research and client work show that companies like Salesforce, Citrix, Cognizant, IBM, Adobe and others will continue to move well beyond managing this trend in 2016—they'll embrace it as a major driver for growth," says Lee. "We'll spend two days seeing how these and other firms are excelling in this environment, at the 2016 Summit on Customer Engagement (March 1-2, Redwood City, Calif.). The impetus is coming from dramatic innovations in customer reference, customer advocacy, customer engagement and related programs."
Here are several of the top trends Lee has identified.
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High growth firms in 2016 will increasingly:
- Ask, "What stories do we want our customers to tell?" With empowered buyers and customers talking to each other more and more, senior management must ask, "What stories do we want our customers telling? And what must we do to create these stories?"
- Ask, "How can we leverage the natural desire of buyers and customers to affiliate with each other?" Firms like Salesforce, Citrix, SAS and others are discovering that if you make customers successful and give them a vibrant peer group to affiliate with, they will eagerly tell their story to other customers and your market.
- Treat the prospect as a customer already. Companies will increasingly remove the false distinction between prospect and buyer. They are both customers, and leading firms in 2016 will focus first on meeting their needs.
- Eliminate the distinction between customer and advocate. On the other side of the customer journey--where companies move customers into advocacy--they'll increasingly treat advocates like customers in this phase as well, by offering a value proposition quite similar in appeal to the value provided by products and services.
- Make process king when it comes to customer centricity. Exhortations that "We must be more customer-centric" won't cut it. Leading firms are developing intentional processes and systems—like account-based management, empowered customer-facing employees, customized customer advocacy opportunities, vibrant customer communities and so forth—that will dramatically expand customer value beyond your products and services.
- Leverage technology's next frontier: rich data for the entire customer journey. Technology has developed robust data for moving prospects through the buyer's journey. But the false and dysfunctional divisions between prospect and customer, and between customer and advocate, are being swept away by firms who realize that they need a single view of the company at all phases of the customer journey.
- Adopt the language of the customer. Leading firms in 2016 will devise processes that instill the "voice of the customer" into sales, marketing, product development and the C-suite. Lee teaches a simple 5 or 6 question process for conducting brief phone calls with customers—taking perhaps 5 to 10 minutes—and the resulting language it elicits carries much more impact than the "elevator" pitch that conventional salespeople and executives carry around.
- Build corporate self-esteem. A side benefit of leading-edge customer engagement practices outlined above is that they raise corporate self esteem. "I am frequently struck," says Lee, "at how surprised executives and managers are by the high esteem their customers feel for them. When they realize this, firm self-esteem and appetite for opportunity-seeking dramatically increase."
ABOUT BILL LEE
Bill Lee is the foremost authority in the world on customer engagement and advocacy. He is author of The Hidden Wealth of Customers (Harvard Business Review Press), and is sought out and quoted by major media outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Forbes Online, CRM Magazine, Rain Today and others.
Bill speaks to audiences like the American Marketing Association, the Business Marketing Association, the Net Promoter Annual Conference, the International Advertising Association (IAA), Forrester Research, and many others.
Center for Customer Engagement
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SOURCE Center for Customer Engagement