What makes a successful customer-based initiative tick? Over the last two decades, our consultants have spent countless hours helping companies in a wide range of industries in their efforts to implement customer-based strategies. One of the most frequent questions we hear is: “What do successful customer-driven companies have in common?” In our experience, when a firm launches a successful customer-focused initiative, it’s likely to be characterized by the following traits:
1. The firm is obsessed with delivering value to customers. This means elevating the customer experience, improving customer satisfaction, and paying close attention to customer feedback and attitudes. The firm might have one or more customer advisory boards and/or deploy a customer survey in order to capture data and suggestions. It’s also likely to seek out customer insight through quality-improvement initiatives.
2. The firm is comfortable with long-term business results. It’s careful not to allow the push for quarterly results to overshadow its business investment rationale or its internal operations.
3. The customer-based initiative is sponsored by senior executives. The firm will have a specific project manager accountable and responsible for executing the plan. And the customer-based initiative won’t be the first set of process changes the firm has managed in this way, either.
4. The firm demonstrates a commitment to the initiative by communicating its launch plan both internally and externally. As the initiative moves forward, reporting capabilities and a vehicle to communicate successes are crucial for building and sustaining momentum.
5. The company is unafraid to assign a completely new set of metrics to assess the incremental progress and success of the initiative. It will use the results from customer surveys for explicitly assigning priorities to objectives.
6. The firm actively invests in training its employees. Companies that invest in training are much more likely to enjoy successful customer relationships, particularly because these types of initiatives often require the firm’s people to do business in a different way. But the training will take root easily in a culture that is centered on the concept of constantly seeking to provide more customer value.
7. The firm identifies internal stakeholders who can act as key disseminators of the customer-based vision. The search for stakeholders will be carried out not just among employees, but among customers as well.