We kicked off our customer experience interviews with the insight that real-time analytics will drive the future of customer experience.

In this interview, we get a slightly different perspective from Maggie Fox, SAP’s new Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing.

How do you define a customer-focused company these days?

However it’s manifested tactically, a company that uses what the customer/market wants as a litmus test for products, approaches – any and all marketing & communications or other customer touch points. I’m also fully willing to concede that this is more of an ideal state than something actually in practice. With, perhaps, the exception of Zappos.

How do you balance the need for a better customer experience with the return on that investment?

The way this question is framed implies that these things are mutually exclusive 😉 Good customer experience (and why are we only focused on customers? What about those who are not yet our customers – they are important, too!) means good business. If you don’t agree, I don’t think you’re going to be around for long.

What is the most extreme future that you could envision for the customer experience?

Where companies and their marketing & communications are largely irrelevant for 80% of the customer decision journey – customers only touch company platforms and content when they are at the point of final decision. Oh, wait. That’s now. (see Gartner study)

Will companies stop selling products and services and start selling experiences?

I think we’ve always been selling experiences – how you experience the company during the purchase of product, how you experience the product, how you experience after-purchase support. The experience is what you share with your peers and colleagues. When asked “How do you like it?”, you don’t give your friends the product and tell them to try it for themselves.

How important is customer experience for B2B companies?

Human relationships are all that matter. Period.

Maggie Fox is the Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at SAP, responsible for delivering a unified digital experience to SAP customers and the market. Prior to joining SAP, Fox was founder and CEO of Social Media Group, established in 2006 and one of the world’s most highly respected independent agencies helping businesses navigate the socially engaged Web. She has been interviewed by Inc. magazine, The Washington Post, CBC Radio, The Globe and Mail, CBC News, CTV News and The Financial Post, among others. In 2011, The National Post named her one of Canada’s Top Innovators. Fox sits on the boards of GetElevate.com and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

This article originally appeared on Business Innovation.

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