When aiming to turn a traditional company into an organization around the customer, some factors are to be considered. Once it is clearly established that all kind of organizations and industries have already recognized the need for customer-centricity, it must be taken into account that we have to face “real life” and its associated challenges. Therefore, a starting point should be defined together with a clear strategy covering all those aspects relevant for this transformation.
Why have all kind of organizations and industries recognized the need for customer-centric strategies?
In a new market environment, where businesses are suffering critical changes, some of the key ones are linked to new consumer patterns. Such as an increase in comparability and transparency, decrease in customer trust, as customer is more critical and able to influence others and, changes in loyalty concept due to the fact that it is not so relevant the sharing of certain values.
Linked with this understanding of an evolving environment, pioneers in customer-centric strategies enjoy business results improvements. Such as an increase in loyalty and cross-selling, reflected in a better NPS, together with cost reductions as less problems will come up and Contact Center call rate will be reduced.
Considering all these reasons, even the most traditional companies have already started this evolution that will oblige them to face “real life” and its associated challenges, both internal and external. Among internal ones, it is important to highlight a lack of customer culture at all company levels, complex legacy IT systems, operational and data silos, old-school marketing skills and tools (if any) and a high pressure to improve business results very quickly while lacking of IT & Marketing resources. As for external ones, we should not forget that we are not the only ones having a clear market vision but other competitors have already started to move on in the same direction, threatening our position as there is a clear lack of customer engagement, at least in insurance industry, with few contact with customers.
So, where do we start this pilgrimage?
As a first step, a high-level analysis of key levers is required. This analysis comprises not only whether a top-down leadership and organizational commitment is in place (do not start your road without them!) but a clear picture of existing and required capabilities as tools and skills (do you have some foundation or do you need to clear the jungle?) and, as a result of this analysis, a multi-year high-level roadmap definition in terms of tools, data and processes, including high-level objectives to gain the buy-in from top management should be made available.
But relatively immediate results are required to keep attention and credibility in this pilgrimage and there should be a time vs impact balance. Therefore, our focus should be both on short-term results, by looking at operational inefficiencies in customer-related processes (in our case, a pot of money was found when differently managing unpaid invoices), while starting to build the mid-term key pieces of the roadmap (usually IT-related) as there is a long road ahead with no few obstacles and the sooner it is started, the better.
And let´s not forget customer experience in this pilgrimage!. Fixing the basics on customer experience is a step of the utmost importance. A high-level customer stage/journey is drafted, based on customer volumes and issues, that will be used as a basis for “ a customer journey mapping roadmap”, prioritized by NPS/impact on business. With this goal in mind, it is needed to measure customer experience ASAP as it is easy to implement some touch point NPS surveys and/or recollect customer/mediation/ front line feedback but let´s be sure that the important parameters are measured and that two frequent pain-points are not forgotten: pay attention on old school process review as, sometimes, pain-points can be solved by fixing the basics and keep your customer informed ( traditional companies do normally forget to keep customer informed and SMS or mail delivery is quite an easy process to be implemented).
As a fourth consideration in our pilgrimage, let´s have a real “obsession” with action plan. Once main pain-points are identified, action plans need to be prepared as well as governances including main stakeholders and be focused on leveraging on believers, identified during initial high-level analysis, as well as on those areas of higher impact and bigger number of allies.
And let´s be data-based ( how many customers do we have?). In many traditional companies, data warehouses and front-line systems, among others, are available but information is distributed among different silos and work is required to come to a unified customer view. But as previously indicated, we cannot achieve this goal in a one-step process so SVoc creation needs to be launched as a basis for all front-line systems, customer communications and campaigns, being aware that it will not be ready for years and, therefore, an initial step will be to start with some key fields (name, age) by using manual processes or file-based interfaces.
If you have not already used or built “customer value”, just think that even a basic one will help you to start prioritization on actions, focusing on higher-impact ones.
And we come to tools, as another important point to be reviewed in our pilgrimage and a simple questions is raised: manual or automatic ?
After initial high-level analysis performed, a picture of which tools we have and what will be needed ( roadmaps) on top of that is quite accurate. Considering that some excellent suites, that cover most of any company´s needs and are able to be built on top of almost any legacy systems, are available in the market, needs can vary according to your sector or company but, at least, customer communication management tools ( manual action will be implemented as a first step but soon this line of action will be unsustainable), front-line systems (contact center, sales…) and customer analysis ( and advanced analytics later) will be required.
And people ( do we have the right stuff?)!
This is not a minor issue as you will probably be short of “customer-oriented” people in your own team but, at the same time, you cannot only hire people from outside for all positions. Therefore, identify which roles are the critical ones you lack of (usually those ones related to customer experience design and measure together with customer lifecycle) and bear in mind that those will be your apostles for culture change.
Now, it is only up to you to decide whether you want to make a difference, if a traditional company is your place; if that is the case, fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride!
Enrique Gomez Alonso, Chief Customer Officer, Zurich Spain will also be
speaking at the upcoming Chief Customer Officer Europe Event in London
on the 7th of June 2017.