Shifting Gears: Trends in Drivers of Customer Satisfaction

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In my years at EMC I’ve seen a lot of changes in the tech industry. Those that capture my greatest attention are changes in our customers’ needs and what drives value and business outcomes. With today being Customer Experience (CX) Day, a globally recognized day to celebrate companies’ commitment to customers, I thought I’d reflect on a few trends I’ve seen over the years, and I’d be interested to hear your observations, too.

In years past, “product” was always at the top of the list in our customer satisfaction studies – what drove satisfaction were attributes such as capacity, functionality, performance, reliability, design and quality. Today, we still see product in the top three drivers of satisfaction, but it’s no longer #1 or, in many cases, a key differentiator.

In the #1 position today is account management. It’s all about relationships. Customers want a technology vendor who understands their business objectives – not just their IT objectives. They need to feel the vendor truly has their best interests at heart and they’ll be in it with them for the long haul.

What will differentiate vendors is the ability to build trusted relationships throughout their engagement with customers, at every touch point, starting before they are even customers. How easy is it to find information on your website? Are you providing enough “free” advice online that potential customers find valuable? How is the sales engagement? Will the company keep its commitments and not over-promise just to make the sale? How easy is it to do business with you? We at EMC learned early that we needed to track the customer experience holistically; we measure customer satisfaction throughout their journey with us, from pre-sale to serviceability.

Employees Fuel the Relationships

If relationships are driving customer satisfaction, who’s fueling those relationships? This is very simple; it all starts with our people. People with the right attitude – who truly listen to customer needs, objectives and business outcomes, and are empowered to do the right thing for customers. This alone has helped us build unparalleled customer loyalty and win more business, which in turn allows us to invest in more innovations that will deliver even more customer satisfaction and reasonable shareholder returns, too.

I want to take this opportunity to thank our 47,000 employees for their tireless efforts on job #1 – focusing on our customers’ success. And I want to thank our countless customers around the world for the opportunity to earn their business every day. In fact, TCE (Total Customer Experience) is part of our EMC lexicon. It is a part of everything we do on behalf of our customers. Today, we are celebrating CX Day as “TCE Day” with more than 10 events in seven countries– as well as a virtual event.

No matter where you are today, I invite you to celebrate TCE Day, and know that TCE is an integral part of everything we do every day here at EMC!

Have you observed any other trends in driving customer satisfaction over the years? I look forward to your comments and also invite you to watch the videos below on the various perspectives on the TCE team here at EMC.

Customer Perspective

Leadership Perspective

Employee Perspective

For more insights on IT trends from senior leaders at EMC, see our Reflections Blog.

About the Author: Howard Elias

Howard Elias is president of Services and Digital at Dell Technologies, overseeing global support, deployment, consulting, education and managed services, the IT organization and Virtustream. He also co-leads Dell Technologies Select, an elite sales team focused on serving some of Dell Technologies’ largest customers. Howard is responsible for setting and driving strategy to enable and accelerate the mission-critical business transformations of customers and Dell’s own global operations. Previously, he held various leadership positions at EMC, including president and chief operating officer of Global Enterprise Services. In 2016, he was tapped to be EMC’s lead for the Dell and EMC integration, overseeing the value creation and combination of the largest technology merger in history. Howard joined EMC in 2003 from Hewlett-Packard where he was senior vice president of Business Management and Operations for the Enterprise Systems Group. Prior to Hewlett-Packard, he held executive positions at Compaq, Digital, AST Research and Tandy Corporation. Howard was a co-founder and served on the board of managers for the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) Company. He currently serves as chairman of TEGNA Inc., a media and digital business company, and is a member of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable. He attended Wayne State University and Lawrence Technological University.
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