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Optimize Your Company’s Business Strategy With Customers In Mind

Embrace customer experience as your business' top priority

As “customer experience” has become a hot topic and nearly every industry has embraced it as a priority for their business, it is important that it also become united across your organization. And that means building a one-company approach to business strategies.
What I know from 25 years as a CCO practitioner and ten years as Coach to Customer Leadership Executives and their Leadership Teams is that we’ve got to take the reactive nature out of this work. Our work must be about embedding behaviors and competencies into the organization: Competencies that will transform how you do work to achieve customer-driven growth.

The purpose of this work is to galvanize the organization to deliver experiences customers want to have again — to ‘earn the right’ to customer growth. But what happens inside an organization is often the opposite. Customer-focused actions are the reactions to survey results, an executive in the field getting direct customer feedback, or a letter that lands on someone’s desk. Information is delivered, the silos react, and the cycle repeats.

Develop your customer experience strategy.

For this work to become valued and considered critical to driving growth it must rise above the fray of being defined by problem-solving or chasing survey scores. Here are the five competencies that I have successfully worked around the world with organizations to deliver — to develop a business growth strategy — and a customer-driven growth engine:

In this Competency, the work is to align leaders to make a defining performance metric – the growth or loss of your customer base. The purpose is to shift to a simple understanding of the overall success achieved when a company earns customer-driven growth.

Customer Asset Measurement is about knowing what customers actually did to impact business growth or loss versus what they say they might do via survey results. For example; how many new customers did you bring in this quarter, volume and value (power of your acquisition engine); how many customers were lost this quarter, volume and value (power of the experience and value perceived); how many increased their purchases; and how many declined in their level of engagement with you? And the key here is to express these outcomes in whole numbers, not retention rates, so the full impact is understood…those are lives of customers joining or leaving you.

Competency 2 gives leaders a framework for guiding the work of the organization: requiring cross-silo accountability to deliver deliberate customer experiences. It unites the organization in building a framework for “Earning the Right” to Customer Asset Growth. The role of the Chief Customer Officer is to unite leaders and the organization in building a one-company version of their customer journey.

This means facilitating one-company building, development, and understanding of the entire customer journey, versus the silo-based journeys that are frequently built that are really internal processes called “journeys” (such as the sales process, marketing acquisition process, etc.). It includes focusing the organization on one-company experiences. And on changing the conversations from silo driven conversations to collaborative conversations about customers’ lives – their experiences across the journey they have with your organization. Over time, this will evolve leadership language to drive performance along the customer journey, driving accountability to journey stages, not only down silos.

Competency 3 unites your organization to build a ‘one-company’ listening system, constantly refreshing to tell the story of your customers’ experience and guided by the customer journey framework. Feedback volunteered from customers as they interact with you, survey and social feedback, ethnography and other sources of gathered input are assembled into one complete picture, presenting customer perception and value, stage by stage of your experience.

The goal is to engage leaders and the organization to want to be a part of ‘one company’ storytelling to unite decision-making and drive cross-company focus and action. That’s why I’ve coined this competency as building a customer ‘listening path.’

The common path connects all of this listening to the customer journey to galvanize leaders and the organization to focus on key areas of improvement connected to customer growth, driving greater results and greater understanding of this work.

Competency 4 builds out your “Revenue Erosion Early Warning System.” We need leaders to care about how we are performing in the processes that impact the priority moments in your customers’ journey with you. These are the intersection points which impact customer decisions to stay, leave, buy more and recommend you to others.

This is where you build your discipline to know before customers tell you – if your operation is reliable or unreliable in experience delivery in the moments that matter most. The role of the Chief Customer Officer is to drive executive appetite for wanting to know about these interruptions in customers’ lives, simplifying how they are delivered, and facilitating a one-company response to these key operational performance areas.

Competency 5 is your “prove it to me “competency. For this work to be transformative and stick, it must be more than a customer manifesto. Commitment to customer-driven growth is proven with actions and choices. To emulate culture, people need examples. They need proof. ‘Culture’ must be proven with decisions, and operational actions that are deliberate in steering how a company will and will not treat customers and employees. This is the glue that puts into practice leadership behaviors required by a united leadership team to enable and earn sustainable customer asset growth.

The goal is to work with the leadership team in building the consistent behaviors, decision-making and company engagement that will prove to the organization that leaders are united in their commitment beyond words.

Unite your business’ leadership.

You must move beyond the customer manifesto and translate the commitment to actions that people get and can emulate. That’s what Competency 5 helps you to accomplish for your organization. Competency 5 is the requirement for uniting your leadership in their understanding, commitment, and enabling of the work.

When these five competencies are embedded into the organization with leadership behavior, they are so clear that they become the work of the organization. There is no separation between the “customer” work and the “real” work. They connect to growth, they shift attitudes from chasing the score to caring about and improving customer lives (the real reason to do journey maps, by the way).

These five competencies are not distinct ‘work streams’ (by the way, that phrase always drives me a bit nuts because ‘work streams’ are often built separately without the critical line of sight to each other). Today, surveys come out, and we react to them. Research is done and we react. Products are developed with varying degrees of customer understanding. Everything is a distinct project without an overarching framework. Workstreams begin without line of sight to each other.

These competencies are built, with a clear connection to one another so that over time you have a repeatable and deliberate customer growth engine. And please keep this in mind; the goal is over time you will build the engine.

Originally published on Quora.
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