According to 4 out of 5 respondents to Gartner’s Customer Experience in Marketing Survey, customer experience — rather than price or product function — is on track to be next year’s key competitive edge. If that were a catalyst for greater effort, that would be good, but far too many companies are likely to view it with dangerous complacency. Coincidentally, about four-fifths of surveyed businesses believe that their industries “usually” or “always” achieve the kind of excellence that leads to loyalty and profitability, while only half of their customers agree.

It’s clearly a problem when there’s a gap in perceived performance between the server and the served — but it’s an even bigger problem when the very measure of that performance is wildly different. The business may measure customer experience by the speed of answering a phone call, or responding to a social media posting, but that may only minimize damage to the brand rather than elevating customer loyalty and value.

What’s needed is not a traditional, siloed approach. It’s long been common practice to treat pre-sale customer engagement as outbound mass marketing, and view post-sale engagement as an overhead function: a pure cost to be minimized. That separation, and both of those customer-as-outsider viewpoints, must be banished. What’s possible — and increasingly necessary — is a recognition that a brand, today, gets its value from its community’s affirmative engagement and collaboration.

Let Lightning energize your community engagement

Salesforce introduced Community Cloud to turn the customer relationship inside out: Rather than burdening the customer, requiring a search in all directions to find various elements of interaction with a company, Community Cloud unifies both the customer’s view of a company, and the customer’s participation in the surrounding conversation.

Accelerating companies’ ability to craft a differentiating digital experience, Lightning Community Builder has jumpstarted use cases in a wide range of industries: franchise management, multilevel marketing, and next-generation customer loyalty initiatives. The digital experience platform capabilities of Community Cloud offer companies the ability to brand and theme their experiences, connect CMS content, and offer highly personalized experiences with audience targeting.

The next logical step is happening now, bridging Lightning Community Builder with greater levels of Lightning Platform functionality: additional custom objects, API calls, and storage. This new offering gives IT leaders the ability to connect with external systems, to incorporate business-critical data into custom objects, and then to make that data informative and actionable for external stakeholders in a beautifully brand-building environment.

With Lightning Platform, IT leaders can embrace their opportunity and triumph in their challenge of showing the rest of the business what digital transformation really means. The simple is available immediately — prebuilt apps, components, and templates on AppExchange — while the sophisticated is deliverable in the on-spec, on-budget, on-time IT workplace that people expect from Salesforce. There are low-code builders for the citizen developer (Lightning App Builder and Lightning Community Builder); there are full custom development capability and power on Heroku.

Mastery, not just mechanism

The commonly used phrase “digital transformation” has enjoyed remarkable hockey-stick growth in global usage over the past several years, but it’s too easily misunderstood as an acquisition and deployment of technology rather than a technology-enabled re-engineering of the organization. To pursue a “digital vision,” writes principal research scientist Jeanne Ross at MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research, a company’s leaders “must embrace information-enriched customer solutions delivered as a seamless, personalized customer experience.”

Delivering engaging customer experiences is a necessity today, not an option, and everyone gets new capability to do it with Lightning Platform.

Join us for a Webinar on Top Trends in Digital Experience Platforms featuring Gartner.