Why are you focusing on the Customer Experience?
Isn’t the answer something like:
- turn more of the people who have a need for and/or an interest in buying the ‘products’ you are selling into customers of yours;
- increase the happiness of the people who have bought from you (customers) because you have made it easy for them to buy what they are looking to buy. And because what you sold them does the job they expect it to do for them / enables them to arrive at their desired outcome. And because the experience of using your ‘product’ matches and/or exceeds their expectation; and
- helps you to get more interested buyers to turn up at your store and/or website (without heavy marketing spend) because they have heard good, even great, things about you from the people who have already bought from you?
How exactly are you going to find out what matters to your customers and convert that into a roadmap?
The question is how exactly are you going to find out what really matters to your customers and then convert that into roadmap that helps the people who are in the market to buy (buyers) to buy from you rather than your competitors? That is the answer that Kristin Zhivago has answered comprehensively in her book Roadmap to Revenue. Roadmap to Revenue is a book that speaks to me, it occurs to me as being grounded in experience (not theory), speaks/points at the ‘truth’ as shown by experience and is useful/actionable. What makes that good?
The tag line for the book says it best “How to sell the way your customers want to buy”. In this book Kristin lives up to what she preaches in the book – she delivers on the promise set out in the tagline. Roadmap to Revenue provides a actionable, pragmatic and robust method (and tools and tips) for generating insight into customer needs (as buyers) and converting this into an actionable roadmap for giving giving customers (buyers) what they are looking for and thus growing you revenues.
The skeleton upon which the book hangs, the heart of the book, is the Roadmap to Revenue method that consists of three steps:
DISCOVER is concerned with figuring out how to make buying easier for the people (buyers/customers) who would benefit from the ‘products’ you are selling. Kristin gets that there are various ways of getting at this insight including interviewing employees, conducting focus groups and using social media. She also gets their limitations. Based on that understanding and the kind of actionable insight customer interviews provide, Kristin strongly advocate interviewing existing customers to get at buyers needs and experience. Furthermore, Kristin is clear that these interviews should be carried out over the phone, not face to face. Why? Because, our customers are that much more open, more honest, more disclosing when this interviewing happens over the phone. If you have questions/doubts then think back to the faux pass Barclays made in asking me for my feedback face to face.
DEBATE involves the key players in your organisation to take part in conversations where they discuss, analyse and prioritise the feedback provided by your customers in the earlier Discover step. The objective is to come to an agreement on the “essence of your promise to your customers” (in my framework I refer to this as the value proposition) and to determine which buying category your ‘product’ falls into so that later you can determine/get to grips with the customers buying process. Kristin recommends a 2 day offsite “Brainstorming and Planning Meeting” to do the work that is necessary in this step.
DEPLOY involves taking all that you have learned and turning that into a “Buying Process Roadmap” for each of the distinct ‘products’ that you are selling. This map will show: the different stages of the customers buying process; they concerns that show up at each stage; the actions they take; the questions that customers are asking/grappling with,;the answers that satisfy them; and the best tools for providing those answers. Once the Buying Process Roadmaps have been constructed it is time to put together the “Revenue Growth Action Plan”. This is the implementation plan which sets out what you are going to do to improve what needs to be improved, to fix whats broken, to create what is needed and is not there……
Highlights from Roadmap to Revenue
Here’s a truncated list of the stuff that jumped out at me, resonated with me, created value for me:
1. “In order for you to sell, someone needs to buy. If you make it easy they will buy from you.” This is the essential concept out of / from / on which the entire book is constructed.
2. “The fundamental problem: When you thinking like a seller, you’re not thinking like a buyer.” I absolutely love this one. Why? It is the ‘disease’ that infects just about every Customer initiative and the people who are infected cannot see that they are infected! So any ‘customer-centricity’ is always driven by the needs and vantage point of the seller and selling.
3. “Nothing gets the attention of a customer or prospect more than giving them what they want” Why? Because most sellers don’t give buyers what buyers are looking for and want in order to buy.
4. “There are dozens – even hundreds – of ways to market your product or service. Only your customers can tell you how they want to buy what you sell.” People inside your company are so disconnected from buyers that they fall for whatever is the latest fad (think social media) or the most convincing salesperson. They forget that the right person to ask is the buyer – only she can give you access to her world. Only she can help you to find the right ways to market your ‘product’.
5. “If the CEO isn’t speaking up for your customers, there’s nothing that anyone else can do – regardless of their position – that will turn the company into a customer-centric organisation.” I absolutely love this as it speaks to my experience of what is so within organisations and why most customer-centric efforts wither.
6. “Branding is the promise that you make. Your “brand” is the promise that you keep.” How many brand marketers really get that? How many CMO’s get that? How many Tops get that difference? That small difference is the difference that makes a difference – the difference between the sellers perspective and the buyers perspective.
7. “If the product or service is substandard, the word will get around. Marketing won’t be able to save it. The Roadmap to Revenue system is designed to get people together with good products and services, not to trick people into buying bad products and services.” How much of current business practice is the latter – focussed on tricking people into buying ‘bad’ products and services?
8. “The critical characteristic is the function that is so important to the customer that it compels the customer to buy the product.” This reminds me of the needed to focus, to keep present to the 20:80 rule – to concentrate on that which really matters and do that excellently.
9. “Perception is reality. More specifically, your customers’ perception is your reality.” That is the way that organisations should work. And almost every single one that I have interacted with, worked for/with, consulted with does not practice this. The default condition in organisations is the opposite – it is the reality of the people (with power) in the organisation whose reality counts everyone else is mistaken including customers!
10. “Desire is what starts the person on his buying process. However, as soon as he begins the buying process, his skepticism kicks in. The more expensive and complex the purchase, the greater the scrutiny that the customer will apply to the purchase.” Why? This is clearly spelt out in this aptly titled post by Kristin: Why Do Buyers Agonize? Because Sellers Lie and Minimize.
Final words and disclosure
Kristin has written a gem of a book and I wholeheartedly recommend that you put this on your reading list. I’d go further and say don’t do what I did: buy it from Amazon and have it sit on my Kindle for a month or so. I am grateful for Kristin for sending me a physical copy (free) and inviting me to review it on this blog. It is only when the physical copy turned up that it got my attention and I started reading it. Once I got started I had to read it all as I found it that insightful, that useful. If you do read it and don’t get value out of it then I’d love to hear from you!