Customer-centric transformation to drive growth
In a market where uncertainty and fast paste are by design, knowing what matters to customers and whatnot makes or breaks any business.
In this article, I shed light on how to rewire the organization around customers, common challenges, and the framework to drive a customer-centric business transformation.
CUSTOMERS-CENTRIC TRANSFORMATION: A HOLISTIC VIEW
Rewiring the organization around customers means finding the overlap between customers' experience, people and processes, and technology. If we envision a stack of three separate layers, the long-term goal of any digital business transformation should be to overlap the 3 of them.
From the bottom to the top, starting with the technology at the bottom layer, which enables the organizational structure and people and processes. In the middle, the people and processes layer engages with customers designing the customer experience at the top layer.
In this day and age, just cutting costs, and raising pricing, is not enough to make a business sustainable, short, and long-term.
Organizations need to experiment in real-time and daily with what works and what does not. Knowing what matters to customers allows them to retain them longer, make them buy more, and eventually become fans so that businesses can grow their margins, expand in new markets, and add new revenue streams.
The foundational question any organization inquire about customer experience is:
How to use data coming from different data sources in a profitable, compliant, and secure way?
The pandemic has polarized organizations’ existing challenges and highlighted internal weaknesses to realize that fixing only a specific function, or channel, won’t make a substantial difference. Rather, changing things end to end, transforming the organization across different functions, business units, and geographies, will do.
What organizations still need to overcome?
The common roadblocks are the lack of data centralization (visibility, governance, compliance, security..), misalignment between functions (not only business and IT, but also within the business itself), lead time to production and time to market too long to be effective and to produce significant business outcomes.
1. Data coming from different data sources, raise the need for a unique source of truth that allows centralized data visibility, management, and governance. At the same time, a variety of analytics tools affect the possibility to understand customers’ needs, increase misinterpretation, and cause a poor customer experience.
2. Misalignment between functions (such as marketing, sales, and customer service) usually reflect the adoption of different vendors, one-time solutions, and different technologies that need to be integrated, heterogeneous capabilities orchestrated, making it more difficult to preserve privacy and security. On the contrary, having a holistic vision across business units, and geographies, allow a real-time call to action based on what is observed, and tested.
3. The Lead time to implement digital capabilities is usually too long. Digital campaigns of any type and size need to fast-track the implementation in order to short-cut time to markets. Marketing is trying out what works and what doesn’t, so implementation of functionalities integrated with the web, mobile applications, social media, and marketing automation, should be as smooth as possible, and easily scalable.
FRAMEWORK TO IMPROVE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Like any assessment, the first steps are to evaluate the current blueprint and set quantifiable, and time-framed goals, driven by the organization’s mission. Building a system, adopting a platform that allows the organization to understand, and cross-functionally share what matters and what doesn’t, to which customer segment.
- Identify what should be stopped doing it.
- Value mapping to understand the gap between what the customers need and what the current experience is. Why can’t those goals be achieved today?
- Which capabilities need to be implemented so that the customer experience can improve? and metrics to measure it.
- How can the organization outperform the customer experience by taking advantage of competitors?
Where to start:
- Taking into account that the whole company needs to change, the process is going to be incremental. Start in one business unit, function, geography, or customer segment.
- Focus on use cases with a business-critical pain, current issues, big opportunities, and short implementation, that allows moving to action as quickly as possible to show the change to customers and employees.
- The first successful case is the proof needed to start scaling
Type of results should be obtained to drive foundational changes:
- Converting data to actions takes decision visualising insights which everybody can understand
- Identify actions that improve the customer experience early on
- Streamlining a particular interaction, like onboarding, registration, checkout, or removing a process bottleneck
- Increase traction in a relatively short period by the first year
What it takes to be successful. Elements of a successful transformation.
- An end-to-end transformation starts from CEO support and cross-functional leadership team alignment
- Continuously monitor and test what matters for customers, so marketing can finetune the customer journey accordingly.
- Choose a small number of metrics shared and understood by cross-functional teams
- Making sure the frontline employees are engaged and work differently than before.
- Technology that implements prototypes in a short time to market
- HR involvement to change the culture and the organizational structure
Improving the customer journey is a gradual process that requires work across functions, geographies and customer segments, and usually takes years. Although it is a 2–3 years process if you don’t see value in the near term, within the first year, you will never get to the long term. Being conscious of the signs of unsuccessful initiatives is paramount to finding the courage to kill the initiative as soon as possible. Leveraging the learnings will get the organization closer to the expected business outcomes.