In short : better customer relationship is only window-dressing until businesses move from a strict CRM approach to a customer experience one. Futile because intangible for some ones, it’s the cornerstone of tomorrow’s strategies and need an unified and coherent vision of customer related processes, managed by a new player : the Chief Customer Officer.
We left Forrester with “Empowered” which explained us how to empower employees to deliver better customer service.Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business is still about customers but with a less technological and more strategic standpoint. The point here is not to know which technologies will help to serve customer better but what organizational model is needed to make customers become a cornerstone of your strategy and a partner in value creation.
In fact the there are two main concepts in the book.
The emergence of the chief customer officer
The first is the Chief Customer Officer. Because customers are not only buyers : they are partners, promoters, may be involved in product design, carries the enterprise image….and today nobody in the organization is entitled to mange the customer as a whole. Depending on what’s at stake customers may face different interlocutors and even customer relationship strategies between sales, marketing, product management etc… That’s not efficient and can even be counter-productive.
But don’t get it wrong. The CCO is not a Chief of CRM, relying on a myriad of tools to make customers fit in the right box. Please put your technologies away (at least at the beginning), forget your CRM and step back to the basics of what any major enterprise project should be.
The second one is the concept of customer experience. As a matter of that that’s the need for an experience-driven approach to customers that leads to an unified strategy managed by the CCO. And making most businesses understand the value of experience is a really tough job. But facts don’t lie : we’re in an experience economy.
So the authors identify 6 majors steps and disciplines to work on
• Go beyond the title and consider customer experience as a discipline by itself
• Define a strategy
• Understand the customer
• Design a global and cross-functional system
• Govern and manage
• change corporate culture
Customer experience : a matter of process and behavior
What’s at stake is to make businesses used to think that the price of anything is determined by costs and margins understand that the right price, seen from a customer standpoint, depends on something as intangible as experience. What’s attempting the impossible in most cases. But a corner they’ll have to turn in the next years. Still uncomfortable with that ? Just try to wonder why a company can sell a product $1000 and have nearly no customer while another offers quite the same product at $1300 and have tons of customers ready to pay for it.
It’s all about relationships, customer involvement and engagement, listening and behaviors. That’s both a matter of processes, of systems, of how they’re ran. The content and the form.
Fortunately, the book is full of cases illustrating all these steps, of advice and methodology tips that will help any business to build its roadmap and, most of all, to prioritize things and make the right decisions. It will also provide those who want to make things change in their organization with sound arguments to convince the C-Suite.
Technology zealots please move away. “Outside In” is the cornerstone of a new customer relationship model and, most of all, of a major corporate program focused on customers. Not only with words but with the right systemic, operating models and culture.
Enjoy your reading !