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Article -> Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

This article also has an attached file, you may read it by clicking here. PDF

Date Added: April 2008

As the fourth of five articles discussing items needed to create sustainable growth, this article focuses on both customers/marketing, and quality and service. Favorites for most, as these are where the “rubber meets the road” – revenue generation.

Customer loyalty/retention was recently listed by 26 percent of CEOs as their greatest challenge. Addressing this involves five steps to emotionally engaged customers.

1.      Design products/services for the right customers. Prioritize customers to determine those fitting your growth strategy – and those that don’t. Retrain them on your offerings.

2.      Deliver cost-effectively. Use your “people plan” from March’s article to align your people with your products/services so customers receive maximum value at minimum cost.

3.      Ask, Listen, Learn and Act (AL2A). Invest time to interact with customers to identify gaps and create customer-specific action plans.

4.      Build cross-functional teams. Your “people plan” connects departments and employees touching your prioritized customers, creating engagement.

5.      Delight and repeat. Streamline processes that exceed customer expectations. Continuously repeat steps 1 through 5.

Emotionally engaged customers want to do business with organizations whose cultures focus on building brand evangelists. The five steps above, effectively coordinated with a comprehensive marketing communications plan, build the foundation to create sustainable growth.

Most people view customers as relating to the Sales department; and marketing, branding and communications as the Marketing department. While each may lead these efforts, they cannot succeed alone.

This is where everything begins relating to each other – corporate strategy and people plan (per prior months’ articles), and customers/marketing. A clearly developed strategy, successfully communicated across your organization to all people, creating emotionally engaged customers through effectively executed marketing. The entire organization working together.

Working together assumes efficient deployment, strategic alignment and relentless execution – achieving “quality and service.” Successful execution of strategy, people and customers result in having consistently high quality products and differentiated service. Think Bergstrom, Festival Foods, or Margarita’s restaurant.

Superior quality and differentiated service require a combination from elements discussed in prior articles, along with extensive training, communications and marketing. This is much easier said than done – as many firms have discovered – creating imbalance and misalignment. The result: both quality and service suffer. Bringing us to excellence in execution… mentioned by 38 percent of CEOs, as their No. 1 challenge.

Bringing everything together to achieve “excellence in execution” is not easy. Yet, it is vital to the ultimate goal of achieving sustainable growth through the final resolution of “revenue and income.” May’s article addresses this in more detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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