In a digital world, the old sales model no longer works. Customers self-educate and research before they buy, rather than seeking advice and intelligence from the vendor’s sales force. There is a new customer journey.
And the relationship with existing customers is changing too, with loyalty and perceived ‘added value’ being based on the experience received at every single customer touch point.
That means in the successful growth company, sales, marketing, operations, finance and customer service all bear responsibility for developing profitable customer business. All directors are taking ownership for performance measures on customer growth and retention.
To enable successful customer management at all these touch points requires access to as much customer intelligence as possible. Smart actions are based on good data. But no-one wants, nor should have to re-invent all their operating and line-of-business systems.
The most natural vehicle for customer intelligence - the customer relationship management (CRM) system – is therefore now being repositioned as a layer over all existing systems, capturing and giving access to customers’ interactions across all functions of a business.
Making all this work focuses around five key questions that leading companies are exploring:
1. Who are your most profitable customers?
Not all customers can be classified the same - some are far more demanding which can eat into the profitability of the company. It is crucial to use available data to understand the different behaviours of each customer and to be in a position to assign resources accordingly. Using a system such as a CRM solution, enables companies to access a wealth of data and make this data available to the whole business - previously it was locked away in various silos.
2. How aligned are you with your customers’ growth potential?
Being in a position to truly understand your customers and being able to point out who the most profitable are, will help your company build long-lasting relationships. Having a better understanding of your customers will also help your company guarantee that you deliver enough customer service to retain the most profitable ones. Is the product pipeline aligned with customers’ projected future needs? Is your company in a position to offer critical 'added value'?
3. How do you define your customers’ buying journey?
The traditional 'funnel' sales model has been replaced by the new 'customer decision journey' – this is where buyers can take full advantage of the technology which is available to them to proactively analyse products and services and they can switch their allegiances to another company at any point. You don’t want to be playing catch-up with your customers; rather you want to be influencing their buyer decisions at every stage. McKinsey & Company claims that businesses which can optimise their customer decision journey by compressing the consideration and evaluation phases will have a competitive advantage.
4. Where in the customer journey are you losing prospects?
If your company is losing prospects, it is necessary to look at your existing customers and decipher where exactly in the customer journey prospects are defecting. Looking at this in more detail will mean that you will be better poised to intercept and prevent customers from leaving. Existing customers are the best prospects to have. This underlines the importance of the all-round customer experience across operations, finance and product delivery, and the influence that all departments have on keeping, and developing, that customer.
5. What is the business case for a new approach to Customer Relationship Management/CRM?
To survive in the digital age, a truly successful business needs to align themselves with the new customer journey across all touch points of the business (sales, marketing, operations, customer service, finance and HR). Business leaders need to understand the importance of re-positioning this CRM – CRM is no longer just an IT issue, it is a strategic tool that gives individuals within the business a competitive edge to be able to work together as a team to achieve the company’s key goals.