Experience Is King: To Retain Customers, Delight Them

For channel players with no desire to go the way of the dodo bird or the dinosaur, The 2112 Group’s Larry Walsh has two analogies for you.

First, for the 40-and-over crowd, you should be following the Hotel California Rule, but with a twist on the lyrics of the 1977 hit from the Eagles. It’s not that your customers “can never leave”; rather, they’ll be so delighted by you that they’ll never want to leave. Millennials: You should become Uber drivers of a sort, driving your customers to places where they can acquire product. From there, your role as influencer means that you’ll accompany them back to their homes and offices to help them “assemble” and derive value from said product.

That was the upshot of Walsh’s message at a recent “lightning round” presentation – “Rise of the Channel-Driven Customer Experience” – at CompTIA’s ChannelCon in Austin, Texas. The 2112 CEO and chief analyst wove together research findings, channel-trend insights, and sage advice for attending solution providers looking to stoke their businesses amid digital transformation.

“Your customers are looking to you to make sense of the world around them,” Walsh said. “They’re looking to you to untangle all of these complex technologies and to help them adopt resources to make their businesses better.” Those complex technologies include Big Data, IoT, mobility, and the cloud, all of which are converging into “ubiquitous computing” – having technology at our fingertips wherever we go. But for today’s customer, who’ll pay a premium for a positive experience, technology is merely a means to an end, and that end is all about making life easier and driving business outcomes.

To thrive in this brave new world where customer experience is the be-all and end-all, solution providers need to make some big changes. Right now, a fragmented, risk-averse channel is hanging on to legacy business models, moving forward begrudgingly and with little direction. According to 2112 research, 70 percent of solution providers have no business plan, and only one-fifth have strategic plans for growth.

Instead of pointing fingers at disruptors (think Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb), solution providers should be foolproofing their own businesses against disruption by setting goals, focusing on innovation, and taking more risks, Walsh said. For the successful solution provider of tomorrow, intellectual property (e.g., self-developed apps) will be key, product sales will be secondary to services and solutions, and partnerships with customers will be paramount.

Welcome to the Hotel California, where customers can “check out” anytime they like, but they’ll never want to leave.

Larry Walsh at ChannelCom

Watch the video from Larry Walsh’s ChannelCon presentation: click here