Salesforce's Tiffani Bova: Customer Experience Beats Price, Product Every Time

Customer Experience: The New Battleground

Whether they're making it easier to make purchases at retail shops or helping customers book hotels and airlines effortlessly, partners who keep customer experience top of mind will win the day.

In front of an audience of solution providers this week at Channel Partners Evolution in Austin, Texas, Tiffani Bova, global customer growth and innovation evangelist for Salesforce, discussed how companies could create new business practices that use technology to strengthen customer relationships and accelerate growth. Bova shared her ideas on what customers are looking for from their trusted advisors, and how these partners can use technology to prioritize the customer experience, which will ultimately make them more successful with their end customers.

Here were five takeaways from Bova's keynote.

Experience Vs. Price

Bova gave an example of conference attendees opting to stop for a Starbucks coffee, rather than drinking the free coffee that's provided at conferences. She also offered Uber as an example, asking how many times people wait for Uber ride while watching taxis drive by. These companies, she said, understand the importance of the customer experience.

"You are willing to spend five to seven bucks on a coffee while there's free coffee available," Bova said. "How many [people] know how much their last Uber ride cost them? You remember the experience more than the price. We are making decisions based on the experience we have with brands."

The Importance Of Collaboration

Many popular brands are already working together, including the likes of Amazon and Apple, to make smooth buying experiences easier. Solution providers should follow suit, Bova said.

"[Partners] need to figure out this collaborative approach with vendors and with providers to deliver a seamless experience for end user customers because they are getting the exact experience you either intentionally or unintentionally are giving to them."

Using Data To Your Advantage

Solution providers should think about what kinds of problems they are looking to solve and what the pain points are, but partners must ultimately start by considering the customer first, not technology, Bova said. This will help partners put the customer experience first. Also, companies that can gather and share data about end customers will be able to build the right solutions.

"Amazon has data on Whole Foods -- they know what the neighborhood eats so they can put it in the store," she said. "It isn't just about selling what we've sold. The answer is in the data analytics of the customers you have today. The companies that are growing today are knee-deep in analytics."

Start From The Beginning

To look at problems differently, ask different questions, and come up with different answers, partners must develop a "beginner's mind" -- an open mind set on what technology can do to solve real customer problems and deliver an experience to customers that they wouldn't find anywhere else, Bova explained.

"[Many solution providers] pretty much sell the same stuff. So, what makes you different? It has to be the experience and what your customers have with you."

Compete On Experience

Bova told partners that much like consumers talk with each other about their experience with brands, solution providers will have customers that will remember the service they received a lot longer than the price they were charged.

"[Companies] need to be completely organized around putting the customer at the center of every single decision they make around products they develop, the services they give, and the way they engage with customers," Bova said. "[You want] customers waiting on the corner for me while another solution drives by."