Is Your Customer Strategy On Shaky Ground?
So far in this series we have covered a broad range of core competencies needed for Customer Performance and to specifically address Ease of Doing Business. We have discussed how Customer Performance is the way we help organizations manage their most essential asset: their customers. The programs outlined include what you need to develop the structure and roadmap for success, drive new customer acquisition, define customer advocacy, engage customers, develop the world’s greatest brand advocates, and proactively communicate with customers as a true business partner. All of these programs are in service of achieving crucial business objectives:
As we work with organizations to implement this framework, we recommend starting with Objective No. 3: Eliminate Customer Effort. This is roughly synonymous with Ease of Doing Business, as we have discussed previously. Ease of Doing Business is where the early wins can be achieved, and critical momentum can be built.
In our earlier article discussing the various engagement programs that facilitate Ease of Doing business, we outlined a number of crucial capabilities: account management, coordination of resources across lines of business (LOBs), orchestration of customer care, executive sponsorship, a strong communications strategy, advisory councils, product adoption strategies, and value realization. There are other key capabilities that drive Ease of Doing Business, particularly in the realm of customer advocacy and communications.
In addition to these, the entire Customer Performance Framework relies heavily on two foundational capabilities: Analytics & Insights and Change Management. We will discuss each below, with an emphasis on how to put them to good use for Ease of Doing Business.
Analytics & Insights
Segmentation & Valuation: This is about creating the customer segmentation strategy for the whole organization—and then using that to assign value to different customer categories to drive decision making for engineering, marketing, sales and services functions. In our experience, the organization’s owner of the overall customer strategy (whether that’s the CCO, CMO, CDO, CIO, or whomever) is best suited to take responsibility for customer segmentation. This sounds obvious, but we see this done only in a small minority of cases. Segmentation for Ease of Doing Business is especially important because different categories of customers (based on persona, demographics, number of employees, revenue, addressable market, geography, etc.) have widely varying views. Segments perceive Ease of Doing Business differently. For example, in our research of the top five Ease of Doing Business drivers, small and midsized organizations (based on company revenue) are significantly more interested than large enterprises in simplifying new customer onboarding processes. Similarly, all but the largest organizations are distinctly more interested in improving how issues are escalated and resolved.
Customer Data: The customer data function is central to the entire Customer Performance Framework, as this is how the fabled 360-degree view of the customer is attained. We all experience the fragmentation of customer data across many different silos through the organization. We see this even in small companies. It is the job of the customer strategist to create the near-term, intermediate, and long-term plan for consolidation, rationalization, and presentation of customer data for the organization. The application of this for Ease of Doing Business drives early prioritization of customer effort-reduction initiatives and the respective business case development for each initiative.
Performance Metrics: As with anything else across the Customer Performance spectrum, putting a business case in place for Ease of Doing Business requires an iron-clad set of key performance indicators that you can baseline and then measure incrementally over time. See our earlier article on this topic. We will be discussing a variety of options for measuring Ease of Doing Business in our next article.
Employee/Customer Connections: A central tenet of customer strategy is establishing the right connections between employees and customers. As we discussed in our earlier article, employee engagement is THE crucial ingredient for successful customer engagement. This means executing a change management program that is jointly managed by the customer strategist and the head of HR. By far, the most impactful employee engagement actions are those that have a clear linkage to customers to yield a measurable impact on Ease of Doing Business.
Culture Change or Realization: Some believe that cultural change is possible in any organization and that it is the job of the customer strategist to drive change for the sake of the customer. We believe that, while this may be the case in certain organizations, it’s simply not possible across the board. In those cases, the best course is to understand the existing culture and marshal it for the sake of the customer. In any event, it’s certainly the customer strategist’s job to harness culture to improve customer performance, including Ease of Doing Business. This is a big topic and the subject of a future article, so we won’t get into it here, except to say that the toolkit for applying culture to Ease of Doing Business challenges is deep. It shouldn’t be surprising to hear that employees generally want to do the right thing for customers and, when presented with real data and stories about what makes customers successful in realizing their objectives and extending their partnership with you, they will adapt their behavior. It’s up to management to present the data and stories—and give employees room to participate in changing policies and processes.
We’d love to hear from you. How have you applied analytics, insights, and change management tools to make life simpler for your customers, and in turn drive incremental revenue and profitability for your organization?
Thanks for following along and participating in the conversation.
Jeb Dasteel and Curtis Bingham