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“Customers are so hard to acquire, yet so easy to lose.”

Paul Mackender

November 10, 2021

Eric Berridge, EVP and commercial officer at Salesforce, explains why cultural – and not technology – change is the biggest challenge enterprises face as they look to digitally transform their businesses in this new pandemic era.

As part of our Agents of Change series, we were fortunate enough to speak to Eric Berridge, EVP and commercial officer at Salesforce, to discuss the thorny issue of customer engagement and retention at a time of Covid-accelerated digital transformation.  

For those who don’t know Eric, he has been a leading light in the technology industry with a career spanning many years at Oracle, before becoming co-founder and CEO of Bluewolf, sold to IBM in 2019, and, finally, following a period of working at IBM, now finds himself at Salesforce.

Eric believes that, while the timing of the pandemic meant the world of business was, largely, ready to cope from a technology perspective, the real challenge for organizations was, and continues to be, prioritizing doing the right thing for customers. If the pandemic became the catalyst for a sea change in how we behave with customers, Eric discussed how he sees customer interaction and engagement continuing to evolve and change.

The challenge, he feels, is not technology related, but rather cultural around customer experience and having the ability to view your brand through the lens of the customer. What experiences will keep those customers coming back to you? How should you organize yourself to maximise the customer experience?  You can have the greatest customer experience programs designed, but if you put your customer down the wrong path they’ll never experience those and you’ll probably lose them.

While the agility of a smaller, more disruptive organization may appear to make them more adept at customer proximity, Eric discussed his views on larger organisations leveraging their silos in a positive way for cross collaboration.  This included the role of chief customer, chief transformation and chief inclusion officers in creating cultural imperatives across silos to focus better on customers. If these ‘natural bones’ of an organization are left unattended, Eric believes they will work to the detriment of the customer. 

When asked about how to measure customer satisfaction and success, Eric questions whether traditional scores, such as NPS, are metrics that organizations should be using in today’s environment, or whether there are new ways that boards and leaders need to think about how they measure the quality of service they deliver to a customer, such as outcomes from using your products or services.

As well as declaring now to be a good time for organizations to take on risk, Eric also covered the importance of speed and time to value as a growth imperative for any next generation organization within the context of customer engagement. 

Thanks for your time, Eric, the conversation was, as ever, enlightening. Click here to hear more.

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