The Key to a Customer-Centric Strategy
- Building a customer centric strategy. Beyond collaboration, compromise is key to achieving customer-centricity and cross-organizational unity.
- Awareness precedes compromise. Recognizing internal challenges and needs fosters compromise, leading to improved interdepartmental cooperation.
- Compromise drives efficiency. Mutual compromise within organizations is crucial for implementing efficient, automated processes that benefit customers.
In business, “collaboration” is the default answer to the question, “How can we drive a philosophy of customer-centric behavior across our company?” While collaboration is indeed necessary, it’s not the complete answer. Sometimes it helps when leaders, in their effort to persuade, are able to point to a deeper, more practical and specific capability than just a veneer represented by the noun, “collaboration.” Sometimes the secret to making progress toward a customer centric strategy as a cross-organizational principle is the verb, “compromise.”
Isn’t that a sign of weakness in business? Hardly. When you see that word and you think about it in the context of business, does your mind immediately go to negotiations associated with the sales process? That would be the typical reflex response.
But that scenario barely scratches the surface of the volume of opportunities for compromise that are available within a typical enterprise business. Exposing other scenarios and thinking of them as opportunities for gaining a mutual understanding — the first step toward true collaboration — might go a long way toward advancing both a philosophy of a customer centric approach and the company strategy.
Customer Centric Strategy: Compromise Doubling as a Door Opener and a Silo Buster
When we need something from another party, we might eventually warm, even grudgingly, to the notion that compromise is an implicit acceptance that the other party’s position is valid. And that, to some extent, we might need to relax our position if we want to achieve our goals.
Becoming Aware of the Challenges
But to get to the point where we feel we might need to compromise, we must first become conscious that our position can present a challenge for other parties. In the business context, an example is what we do every day. We execute our processes without being conscious whether they could be improved to benefit customers through the involvement of other parties and developing a customer centric culture.
What each party should consider is this: How could another party help me achieve my goals? Awareness can come from looking at what each organization already has within its control in order to do its job and what it needs that is beyond its control. Awareness is the first step toward eventual appreciation and compromise.
Let’s look at the four major organizations with direct revenue impact in a typical enterprise company.
What Is Stopping Collaboration?
What jumps out at you from this table? Does collaboration? What’s stopping people in these organizations from just reaching out and asking for the information they need from the other organization to develop a customer centric approach? Actually, nothing is preventing them from doing that, and in thousands of companies, that’s exactly what happens on a day-to-day basis.
But that’s the problem. In so many companies, that transactional activity of asking and receiving happens in an ad hoc, usually poorly documented, inefficient and expensive way. Some might refer to that kind of interaction as an example of collaboration, and in a sense it is. But because of its insidious nature, it also just happens to be one that is damaging to a company’s overall productivity and, weirdly, one that perpetuates the silos that everyone professes that they want to dismantle.
Establishing a Change of Value
So, awareness of haves and needs of each organization precedes the next action, the need to establish an exchange of value. Because each organization is typically running flat out doing the job it is meant to do, there is very little appeal in carving out time and energy to provide another organization with what it says it needs. That’s why the table above is helpful. It shows the opportunities for a quid pro quo, a favor granted or expected in return for something. Sales has information that Customer Success needs and vice versa. To agree to provide something if you can receive something in return is human nature (perhaps, unfortunately) and it’s also how the business world operates.
Related Article: Your CX Altitude Change: Customer Centricity to Life Centricity
How to Introduce Extreme Efficiency and Improve Internal Outcomes by Adopting a Programmatic Quid Pro Quo
We should all know by now that automation has allowed companies to scale their ambition and increase their ability to achieve their financial goals. There is no disputing that. Especially today in this high cost of capital environment we find ourselves in, there is even more reason to examine our manual, inconsistent, and unmeasured processes and convert many of them to more productive automated ones. Not to suggest that it will be trivial to do so but each of those value exchanges I’ve described can be automated.
Imagine how much the lives of salespeople would improve if they had knowledge about existing customers’ pace of success and what organizational constructs and skills secrets existed that may have contributed to their success. In other words, all that missing context salespeople crave and require in order to move faster and with more precision could be made available if information flowed more freely and consistently from Customer Success.
Making More Information Available
Something similar should happen in reverse. I can assure you that the life of a CSM and the experience of customers would be vastly improved if the sales organization made more business information available to Customer Success. That organization could improve its ability to onboard customers (the key point in the journey in which churn is ignited), and could improve its ability to plan for stronger renewal and expansion conversations.
But these programmatic approaches will not happen in the absence of a genuine spirit of mutual compromise.
Related Article: How Can Your Organization Truly Be Customer-Centric?
Customer Centricity Excels at Internal Compromise
A customer centric approach demands a certain type of behavior of all members of a company. Such a governing philosophy cannot be relegated to a single organization because, frankly, it won’t work unless all organizations are aligned and executing in unison. Even though everyone in the company might believe they are rallying around a common purpose, there are too many activities and processes, too much data, too many dissimilar areas of focus, spread across too many vital company organizations for that purpose to be realized in a manner that is coherent to everyone.
Final Thoughts on Building a Customer Centric Strategy
While that incoherence might not be very visible internally, the resulting friction might be very visible on the outside. Because from a customer’s point of view, working with a company should feel to them that they are dealing with a single organism, not a loose coalition of sub organisms operating under a single brand. It should be an organism that understands what they expect and what they require and is able to meet and deliver on those expectations.
All of that orchestrated execution is a true customer centric strategy, but it won’t be possible unless each organization within a company understands its role, it understands the role of the others, and it places the highest priority on ensuring that it compromises, for the greater good, in service to the others.
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