It’s easy they said. No problem they said. The number of times I’ve heard promises from vendors that end up falling flat are too many to count. And though I don’t mean this article to be a condemnation of most vendors—honestly, you’ll see where I’m going with this in a minute—there does seem to be a clear approach that does not work for a lot of companies that are looking for a solution from a so-called expert.
So, now that’s off my chest, here is what I believe is the challenge for most “experts”: the spotlight is always placed on them and not on the customer. The sales pitches from vendors are always the same. It usually starts with how they are so easy to work with, they are the experts, they have done this hundreds of times, and so on.
And though that might be great, it shouldn’t be about the vendor—it should be about the customer.
For instance, just because a vendor has done something a hundred times, the customer is most likely completely new to the endeavor. Where to start, what aspects of the project need to be considered, and how will it impact the other departments within the organization—that’s all really important to the customer. Therefore, the approach taken by the vendor must be customized for the customer, and must not be a cookie-cutter approach of one-size-fits-most.
Oddly enough, this scenario hits extremely close to home. When omNovos first opened its doors, like any other company it had to address process. And though we were fortunate enough to have a parent company with 40+ years of experience in data management, we quickly realized it wasn’t just about us. The retailers we engaged with were embarking on a new journey to modern customer engagement, something very foreign to all of them. After all, leveraging data for such a purpose has not been around for decades—to a retailer this is undiscovered territory.
This is where the concept of personalization steps outside the marketing definition and firmly into that of true customer relationships. If vendors are to personalize an experience, then they must embrace the idea that everyone is different. Whether it’s technical knowledge, logistics, or marketing—the list goes on—each individual has their own way of understanding and internalizing new processes.
This is why vendors must also get away from hiding behind buzzwords and industry-speak. The vague nature of almost any new industry is downright mind-numbing. From terms like omnichannel, hyper-personalization, not to mention all the technical stuff in the background, anyone with a knack for our modern vernacular can come off as being the smartest in the room. However, it doesn’t mean they are good at their job.
For me, this is where the rubber meets the proverbial road: where process beats BS. My advice, when you approach a vendor ask the toughest question of all: show me your detailed processes. After all, there is that famous quote, “If you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, then you don’t know what you’re doing.“
Ask them to walk you through everything that needs to be done and make them explain it in language you can understand. And like any business, those who know their processes inside and out should be able to speak your language and map out a project in terms that everyone can understand.
With the speed of business increasing at an exponential rate, there is no room for overpromising and underdelivering. If businesses are to succeed by finding the right partners to help them on their way, vendors must embrace what “partner” really means: the customer is the focus—always.
Find a partner. Someone who will work closely with you, listen to you, hold your hand throughout this complex process, and help you build the systems required for modern customer engagement to increase your sales and revenue.
Chief Customer Officer
Andrew Armstrong is the Chief Customer Officer at omNovos – working globally with customers to design world-class customer engagement programs. He’s a prolific writer and speaker on topics including customer loyalty, personalization, and retail marketing technologies. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter - his open approach to all topics usually leads to a fun discussion and a few laughs.