By Greg Whitham
Consulting Director for Advisory Services at Datacom
Putting the ‘customer’ at the centre of everything a business or organisation does, is now such a common theme, everyone’s had the opportunity to consider its relevance to their own industry.
And while the noise can swell from superlative hype to questioning conservatism, it's hard to ignore the staggering success many organisations have enjoyed when they re-orientated their business model around their customers.
Equally prominent are the obituaries of the many incumbents that have had their business eroded by a more customer-focused service or product.
In defining how to transform and embrace the customer, there is more to consider. Onboarding the 'customer first' mandate of its own, favours only one side of the coin.
A customer-focused strategy without the full support of the business verticals and stakeholders is a strategy with a lifecycle shorter than a 'Blockbuster video rental app' for a Blackberry.
In short, a customer strategy must be sustainable. This will mean defining how the value delivered to the customer creates an equal (or incremental) value back to the business.
It will also need to account for the technological requirements, considering both current and future state, in order to ascertain viability and road map its implementation.
Defining the attainable and sustainable scope of your customer strategy requires consideration across three key quantifiable and measurable areas:
The path to defining key opportunities to leverage customer focus could be born from customer research or business insight. Regardless of its inception, to be sustainable it will need to balance both, and recognise its scaling opportunity against the technology available to support it.
This insight, in turn provides direction in defining priorities and imperatives, and in so doing, can advance a business or organisation’s ability to unify stakeholders and rapidly build momentum.
Too often, in our Marketing, Management, IT, and industry press, the narrative remains fixed on the customer when the real opportunities come from identifying the relationships between the customer and the business, and the interaction accelerator provided through the technological framework –predicting, and feeding the customers’ needs, while concurrently updating the businesses market intelligence.
With all three of these factors identified, it becomes easier to recognise the greatest opportunities for a profitable and sustainable transformation.
While technical constraints are often cited as the reason some boardrooms fail to establish momentum in transforming to meet the demands of the 21st-century customer, changing the internal culture is often a more significant challenge. A customer strategy that has clearly defined value streams back to the business is an effective asset in changing its internal culture.
A further advantage of a business that focuses on its customers in defining its strategic imperatives, is that the relationships to the customer is pushed out beyond the CMO and CCO to become the unifying culture across the business. This allows for diminishing siloed practices and thinking, and better focusing the business in a unified direction.
The opportunity is then positive. Understanding your customers can significantly reduce risk in determining where and how you innovate.
Ensuring that the ‘problems to be solved and opportunities to be leveraged’ are consistent with the motives of the customer while reducing experimentation in new innovations that stand less chance of being adopted by the market.
Recent research from Adobe and Forester ('The Business Impact of investing in Experience' | 2018) also points to stronger employee satisfaction when working inside a ‘customer focus’ organisation.
Pick the smartest path to transform your customer experience. Start with your stakeholders or start with your customers. But start before you are ready because digital agility remains one of the last remaining differentiators in a customer obsessive market.
Greg Whitham is Datacom’s Advisory Services Consulting Director specialising in customer experience. If you’d like some expertise help in in the area of Customer Experience design and implementation for your organisation, we'd love to help - go to our contact form here and we'll be in touch.
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