James Frampton: how to combat the ‘Great Customer Resignation’ threat

Fed up with how they were being treated by their employers and realising life was too short to put up with a raw deal, candidates began to dictate the job market and the ‘Great Resignation’ became one of the top headlines of 2021.

Yes, it’s the people that make up the lifeblood of a business, but a company is clearly nothing without its customers to sustain it as well. Customers have long exercised their ability to vote with their feet when they aren’t happy. But, in 2022 we have begun to see an altogether more silent revolution take place – the ‘Great Customer Resignation’ – which threatens to destabilise organisations as they battle against a whole host of negative market forces.

Customers, particularly in B2B, are fed up with a poor customer experience and are increasingly emboldened not to tolerate it either. New research from SugarCRM shows that B2B customer churn is increasing. Six in ten (58%) sales and marketing decision-makers across the UK, USA, Germany and Australia agree that their organisation’s customer churn has increased over the last 12 months. Worryingly, a similar number (55%) believe their organisation doesn’t know which customers are likely to churn, leaving them struggling to contain the issue.

Responding quickly

The research found that the average customer turnover rate is now nearly one-third globally and 33% in the UK – businesses are losing nearly one out of every three customers they gain. Organisations need to respond quickly to what is both an opportunity and a threat, to ensure they are not left behind. To do so, they need to go back to basics and understand if their entire customer experience is fundamentally built with the customer journey in mind.

For too long Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have not delivered on their promises and marketing and sales departments have failed to work together to put the customer first. It’s happened time and time again and it’s causing a customer relationship crisis in B2B.

The data also shows that over eight in ten (81%) sales and marketing leaders believe their customers leave because of a lack of relevant communication and/or personalisation, and just under two-thirds (63%) agree sales and marketing misalignment is impacting their growth. Meanwhile, six in ten (58%) agreed their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is costing them time and money.

So where does a business begin to grapple with this burgeoning issue? One of the universal answers to this question is the broader understanding and adoption of customer experience (CX) tools that can give a crystal-clear view of customers, not only based on customer data residing inside the business but also taking full advantage of data that exists outside their walls.

A holistic customer journey

Dissipated data and the inability to anticipate customer needs lower the quality of customer-brand interactions and are responsible for increasing customer turnover.

74% of UK respondents suspect customers are leaving due to poor customer service or experience. This could explain why 70% of global respondents said they need to do more to improve customer trust in their brand / organisation and why 73% underscored the need to act on customer feedback for improved customer service and experience.

As most Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems only offer a fragmented view of the customer journey, without context-rich information, it is no surprise that the customer journey becomes broken, the customer becomes frustrated, and the business has no idea what went wrong.

Today’s customers are always shifting and changing their expectations. In this dynamic environment, companies need to accentuate their value proposition and, most importantly, differentiate to retain customers, ideally for life.

To keep up with customer ever-changing expectations, companies need to overcome limitations posed by fragmented data spread across multiple systems, the lack of no contextual understanding of their customer, and inefficient operations and workflows.

While consolidated software and data seems to be the obvious solution to many critical business pain points, we rarely see a complete customer view implemented and available within companies. A complete historical overview of customer interactions, however, allows companies to monitor customer journey evolution and achieve a high-definition customer experience.

Removing customer data silos

From a more employee-centric perspective, at least in sales, a consolidated and intuitive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system allows salespeople to focus more on revenue generation and less on finding information across siloed software.

Clear customer insights and contextual data can ensure higher competitiveness levels because of their potential to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and operations. While almost nine in ten sales and marketing leaders (86%) said their organisation’s sales team is currently using Artificial Intelligence (AI), it’s important to understand that not all AI is created equal, and often the term is used to describe simple automation.

The power of true AI

A true, AI-fuelled customer relationship system can not only aggregate data from different sources, including in-house sales, marketing and service tools, but also interpret and identify patterns in customer interactions. It is also capable of compiling customer data with open-source database information to offer further insights into customers, their preferences, chances to convert, and likely interactions.

While the correlation between customer loyalty and profit continues to increase as the world further digitalises, companies who invest in tactics and technologies to bring them closer to their customers can unlock steady revenue growth, often at the expense of their competition.

. Understanding that intelligent technology is a key enabler in creating an impactful customer experience will allow businesses to reap the benefits of having satisfied, long-term customers. Those that deliver a fantastic customer experience in 2022 will be well poised to take advantage of the Great B2B Customer Resignation.

James Frampton is Senior Vice President and General Manager EMEA, at California’s SugarCRM.

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