Making eBusiness Outside In

Today Forrester released its new book Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. At the crux of the book is a powerful message for all firms and in particular for eBusiness professionals: We are in the age of the customer. The only way to create sustainable competitive advantage is by being customer obsessed. In the book authors Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine outline how companies can save billions, gain loyalty, and profit from customer experience excellence.

The message and methodologies in the book are essential for eBusiness professionals, who orchestrate the digital experience across touchpoints for customers in many firms. We're seeing eBusiness professionals putting customers at the center of their businesses by shifting from outdated strategies to agile commerce principles. eBusiness professionals are turning agile commerce into a reality by:

  • Focusing on retention and experience over acquisition. Customer obsession means spending more on service and experience than on acquisition. eBusiness professionals are making this shift with increased online self-service, onboarding, merchandising, and personalization efforts. As an example, to combat account attrition,  which plagues the retail banking industry, Zions Bank created a new multichannel customer onboarding program that over a 90-day period delivers a combination of thank-you, engagement, and cross-selling messages. Focusing on the customer has paid off for the bank, which saw an 11% lift in retention of new accounts.
  • Investing in technology to power proactive digital experiences. Real-time insight is the key to creating selling experiences and offerings that customers will embrace. Whether through CRM, analytics, or core platform upgrades, eBusiness professionals tell us that they're driving technology decisions to better understand and interact with digital customers.  As an example, in a recent report my colleague Martin Gill writes about how Virgin Atlantic Airways' eBusiness team is leading a major program to service-enable its core booking systems, allowing its eBusiness team to rapidly develop new customer-facing functionality with third-party design and development agencies.  
  • Breaking down channel siloes. To orchestrate digital experiences that satisfy customers, eBusiness professionals have no choice but to ditch outdated multichannel strategies in favor of agile commerce strategies. In essence, say goodbye to optimizing against channel metrics and switch to customer versus channel metrics. Also, say hello to a new role in your organization -- eBusiness educator. To bring new employees across the organization up to speed on the power of digital touchpoints for customer relationships, eBusiness professionals tell us that they're increasingly running company-wide training programs and education series. 
  • Connecting the digital and physical worlds with mobile programs. As I wrote about in a recent blog post, mobile is finally enabling many of the multichannel programs that eBusiness professionals have long evangelized.  Thanks to the need for in-store and -branch mobile POS, self-checkout, and kiosk applications, suddenly all eyes are on eBusiness teams to develop the firms' digital strategies for what were traditionally considered offline channels as well. 

eBusiness professionals are taking their role as orchestrator of digital touchpoints seriously. There's so much work to do still across organizations and I encourage you to read Outside In to learn how firms are putting customers first across many industries and the results of their efforts. And as always, we'd love to hear examples of agile commerce and customer obsession in eBusiness that you come across.