An Interview with Bob Thompson: “... perception is reality. What the customer thinks and feels is paramount.”

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An Interview with Bob Thompson: “... perception is reality. What the customer thinks and feels is paramount.”

Editor’s note: Customer oriented business strategy is becoming a key contributor to the overall performance of the company. Nowadays it is a necessity to put your clients on the pedestal and plan all your activities according to their needs. But it is hard to immediately turn your organization into a customer-driven one and you need some guidance.

That is why we present an interview with Bob Thompson - a founder of CustomerThink - platform that helps business owners understand how to create mutually beneficial customer relationships. With two decades of experience in customer-facing roles, in sales, technical support, consulting and executive positions he can provide you with essential insights of customer service.

1. First of all, as a two-decade customer service expert, can you tell our readers, what crucial lessons you’ve learnt throughout these years.

The main lesson is that customer service must have a foundation of genuine caring for the customer. That's what being "customer-centric" really means. On that foundation, service managers must empower their frontline staff with the right tools and practices. None of this is a secret, yet few companies seem able to master these basic ideas, and they are the ones that create the most loyal customer relationships.

2. Bob, tell us few words about your brainchild - CustomerThink community. How did you come to the idea of creating it, what is it for and how business owners can benefit from it?

CustomerThink started 20 years ago as an email discussion list to help business managers learn about customer-centric business. We're grown a lot, and now have an online community with 2,000+ registered authors, and service over 150,000 each month. But the mission is the same. Business managers can learn about all facets of customer relationships, engage in discussions, sign up for newsletters, and much more. It's a free resources -- use it!

3. As a customer-oriented businesses strategist, can you advise some technological tools that can help in expansion of a clients base for companies of any size?

Sorry, I don't recommend specific tools. There is a vast array of technology available.

4. Working for IBM must’ve been very exciting, can you share with us some examples or case studies of effective customer-centric improvements the company did with your help?

I was an employee of IBM for 15 years, working with large enterprises in tech support, sales, and management. The biggest lesson I learned came early in my career: perception is reality. What the customer thinks and feels is paramount.

5. Can you provide us with the essential points of your book - “Hooked on Customers” and how it can help our readers.

The book distills 15 years of research into five interconnected "habits" -- practices that top companies perform well. They are: Listen, Think, Empower, Create, and Delight.

6. Which CRM system you will recommend to use to make your business more profitable?

I can't make such a recommendation. Each company and situation is different.

7. Finally, can you share with us your thoughts and predictions about the future of customer service and CRM market in particular?

Customer service has gotten a boost due to recognition that experience is a source of differentiation. CRM tools can help empower agents to provide great service, and recent advance in AI will help even further. I think the future is bright for customer service leaders, and they need to seize the opportunity to make a difference!

We are thankful Bob for the useful information he provided and hope this article will make a business management easier for you!

P.S. If this interview inspired you to choose a new CRM tool, you can take advantage of an automated migration service Data2CRM and run a free Demo.

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