This year’s SugarConnected on Tour was packed full of learning, connection, and (as always) fun! It was a global month-long tour filled with customers and experts sharing experiences, tips and tricks, advice, and best practices on how they use their Sugar products.
BUT. While the tour may have been a big hit, we know in-person events are still a lot to take in. That’s why we decided to sit down and craft this post to help recap the events that have taken place to ensure our community and customers who could not make it still have access to the announcements, keynotes, and overall highlights of the event!
Let’s dive in.
Wisdom We Gathered from Our Keynote Speaker—Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe is a best-selling author on customer service, experience, and engagement. He also regularly writes for Forbes and is the mind behind top Customer Experience (CX) books “Punk CX” and “How to Wow.” At SugarConnected 2022, he put Customer Experience at the top of the operational agenda for modern enterprises.
Adrian touched on two main areas in his keynote: why improving CX is urgent and top priorities leaders can take on to create a customer-centric environment.
3 Reasons Why the Race to Improve CX Is Urgent:
- The way we buy and sell has changed drastically. The pandemic might have got us comfy in our tracksuits, used to working remotely, and even a bit rusty when it comes to getting back out in front of people for an effective sales cadence. Many companies claimed to be customer-focused, but when the rubber met the road during the pandemic, they were ill-prepared. Today, with both consumers and B2B customers more dispersed, isolated, and fragmented than ever, being customer-led demonstrably matters.
- The pace of CX and business, in general, is unprecedented. The pandemic opened Pandora’s box: it taught us that in innovation terms, we could leap forward five years in five days when we have to. And smart boards are looking to maintain that level of agility, particularly given a similarly permanent change in strategic visibility. At a time of inflation, supply shocks, geopolitical uncertainty, and more, businesses must move fast to remain competitive—and not just in CX. The days of the two-year change program are long gone.
- Customers have permanently shifted to digital. According to McKinsey, 75% of consumers have tried a new shopping behavior, for example, moving from stores to e-commerce. This behavioral change is not elastic—it’s been a permanent move powered by digital innovation. Customer expectations are continuing to rise every day, which means businesses must operate in ways that meet new CX standards set by the digital environment.
Top 5 Priorities Leaders Can Take on to Create a Customer-Centric Environment
- Have a vision and strategy for CX. This sounds obvious (strategy always does, but it still gets forgotten…). If you don’t have a clear plan to get from A to B, defined through the lens of the customer rather than your own operational convenience, you won’t succeed. Your CX activities must move the needle on the levers of your business (e.g., customer numbers, spending, churn reduction, revenue, the cost to serve, profitability, etc.) as well as visibly deliver ROI.
- Get to know your customers. Really, really get to know them. Your data and analytics motions will help you understand trends, but that quantitative analysis is not the same as the qualitative insight you’ll get from having real conversations. After all, two people with the same buying profile are still going to be hugely different people! Get in front of people. Understand their stories!
- Remove grit from the customer experience. When we make the buying process seamless, enjoyable, hassle-free, and worry-free, we always return for more. Customers recognize every little hiccup in the process, which could lead to negativity. Take every opportunity you can to remove obstructions or complexity—think of it as an investment in positive CX which will, in turn, increase spend and profitability.
- Employee experience matters just as much as customer experience. In short, happy and motivated employees are the biggest driver in creating happy and motivated customers. Break down your organizational silos, prioritize communication and transparency, and demonstrate intentionality towards CX from the top of the business.
- Focus on the big moments. “CX leaders understand that over 90% of loyalty is earned in two places: at or around the point of purchase and when something goes wrong”, Swinscoe says. The first of these is instinctively true. The implication is that we should put effort not just into a smooth and simple transaction experience but also into making the transaction comfortable. Equally, it’s when things go wrong that we can really shine. Rescuing a negative situation is the ideal way to end up with more gold stars in the eyes of a customer than you started out with.
For the above reasons, leadership teams cannot take their foot off the gas. Customer Experience is a differentiator and a business essential.
What’s New, What’s Next – Scanning the CRM Horizon
Software never stands still, so it was no surprise that some of SugarCRM’s product leaders at SugarConnected 2022 were talking about our product roadmap. But what are the trends behind the tools? We caught up with Volker Hildebrand, SugarCRM SVP Product Management, and Zac Sprackett, Chief Product Officer, to ask where the big innovations in sales technology can be found.
“First, Tech is changing the game, but it is customers who are changing the rules of engagement. Customers want engagement to be digital, to be mobile, and to engage on any channel of choice. Gartner has reported that 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will be at least partly through digital channels by 2025. This is further accelerated by the consumerization of B2B. Our expectations in our business lives are shaped by our experience as consumers, so B2B client engagement must become as convenient and satisfying as consumer experiences like Amazon.”
“If that’s the customer perspective, our next focus has to be the business. Businesses face a raft of challenges in the sales process. Today’s top priority is achieving growth in challenging times by effectively qualifying and pursuing leads and perfecting the customer experience. Then there is the need to use data to optimize operations for efficiency, forecast sales effectively, and so make better decisions. Finally, there is opportunity in improved digitization and RPA to shorten business processes and run a tighter ship.”
Spotlight on Sugar—What’s in the Queue?
Hot off the press, three themes will occupy Sugar in the coming months. These are universal priorities that any professional in sales operations, CRM, or sales strategy should consider:
- AI and the data capture that fuels it: When times are hard, we need to make decisions on more than gut alone; and AI powers the ability to understand information faster and in greater depth than human analysis can achieve. Sugar Connect scoops up information from emails and calendar entries in both Google and Outlook without the user leaving their activity flow and uses that data to fill SugarCRM with zero effort. Not only does this provide a record of sales with minimal data entry and, therefore, fewer errors, Sugar Connect is also providing the fuel for an AI-powered sales model.
- Forecasting: Again, we need to make decisions based on facts, not instinct. When the data is in a CRM system rather than a flat data repository, it can be interpreted through a sales lens. Sales teams need pipeline analytics to drive and optimize revenue ahead of each quarter rather than dealing with them retrospectively. They need visualizations to spot the gaps in KPI performance—or, better still, spot the trends which could cost KPIs further down the line.
- Self-Service: Self-serve is coming to B2B in the same way that it has in B2C. We want the convenience of engaging with our suppliers digitally for most things, but equally to have the guarantee of great personal service to solve more complex challenges. Indeed, this is the definition of a modern, omnichannel customer experience. It’s a win-win. Customers demand 24/7 support, and digitization of customer service processes is the only way to achieve this. SugarCRM is digitizing elements across the sales cycle, from case management and documentation all the way to guided customer workflows.
The sales process is evolving because the needs of the customer—no matter your industry—are evolving. These are only three of the many trends impacting the post-Covid world of sales, but we can be sure of the direction of travel: hyper-digital, proactive, optimized with data, and powered by computer-aided insights.
Theme of the Tour? Customers, Customers, CUSTOMERS!
For us here at Sugar, building customer needs into everything we do is just about ingrained in our DNA at this point. We care about not only meeting their requirements from a partner but exceeding them.
SugarConnected on Tour 2022 was a time for us here at Sugar to show our customers and participants that we hear them, see them, and care for them. Below are a few snippets and photos to help you visualize what the in-person was like. Enjoy!
That’s a Wrap!
It’s time to get back to the basics. At the end of the day, we know one thing here at Sugar to be true: the customer is king. Through every update, feature, and new product launch, we always try to put the customer at the forefront of everything we do.
If you couldn’t attend this year’s tour, no worries! Reach out to a Sugar rep today to talk about topics covered, products, or even to just learn more about who we are!