I’ve had an experience lately that I expect a lot of us Strategic Account Managers have: a promising new idea has emerged from discussions with a customer about business needs and future plans. There is a high likelihood that we’ll work together to develop this idea, but the idea has some legs and could have some potential uses for other companies. Do we have the right to take the idea to other customers and when? Of course, all of this can and will be sorted out as discussions continue (with the help of legal teams, no doubt).
A possible solution is to make the implementation of the new idea for each customer somehow unique, therefore there’s no (or less) infringement on initial intellectual property. This possibility reminded me of a session I attended recently at the Strategic Account Management Association’s University event where they offer extensive workshops and training for more effectively managing strategic accounts. The title of the session was How to Co-Create with Your Customers, and it was led by Francis Gouillart. Mr. Gouillart is a university professor and founder of Experience Co-Creation Partnership (http://eccpartnership.com).
The session was fascinating, and the ultimate message (at least from my perspective) was that you can significantly advance your value to your customer by co-creating a new way of working with them which addresses a business issue or challenge they have. Co-creation is unique for each customer, so there may not be any idea ownership issues. Something to think about…what’s been your answer to who owns a new idea?
It doesn’t take much to convince business leaders that building customer loyalty is a logical customer retention strategy. Intuitively, it just makes sense.
In fact, customer retention is just one of many different reasons why a company would want to partner with a business consulting firm, like Walker, to develop strategies for building customer loyalty. But, one often overlooked reason is loyal customers will stick with you during tough times.
We have all worked for a company that has encountered significant change and times of change create uncertainty amongst employees and customers. Whether the change is a significant product upgrade, an overhaul of an order management or billing system, or the integration of a new call center, all have implications on the customer experience and customer loyalty.
Companies that have a strong and loyal customer base will come out ahead during times of change. The graph on the left is data for a company that is in the process of implementing a significant change that directly impacts the customer.
The horizontal axis represents the customer experience of the change, with responses ranging from "excellent" to "poor." The vertical axis represents the percent of customers who are "extremely" or "very likely" to search for alternative products. The two lines represent loyal customers and disloyal customers.
The key take-away – The difference between the slope of the two lines is extreme. Notice the dramatic slope for the disloyal group compared to the subtle slope for the loyal customers. When loyal customers encounter a bad experience they will stick with you. Whereas, disloyal customers will not tolerate a bad experience.
There are many benefits of having a loyal customer base. Which ones do you think get overlooked?
Note: This post was originally published in Customer Connection on 9/2/2009.
Collaboration and Web 2.0 are two hot topics on the conference scene. Sure, there are others – like innovation and co-creation – but collaboration and 2.0 are everywhere. In just the last few weeks, they’ve been at the SAMA conference in Hollywood, FL; EMC World in Orlando; MRIA in Montreal; and Walker’s own Spring Forum in Dana Point, CA.
Strategic account management is all about collaboration: getting a group of people together to interact and exchange knowledge as they work to achieve a shared goal or resolve a business issue. But are we always as collaborative as we could be, or should be? Do we overlook people who could add to the process and lead to a better solution? Think about the issues you are working on today… now think beyond your ‘core’ group both internally and at your client’s company – who else could you get involved?
Now, think even more broadly. The 2.0 world is expanding the everyday reach of business. You probably already have a network of expertise at your fingertips in tools like LinkedIn, twitter, and blogs. Use it! It’s a great source for brainstorming, subject-specific expertise and real-life examples. And best of all, it is fast.
At this level, collaboration can even be used for something as simple as finding the right word:
BROWSERS –> BARGAINERS –> BUYERS
elapsed time? 42 minutes
I don’t know how @erichollebone is going to use this description of the purchase cycle, but there are at least four other people who have ideas of how it might be applied. I hope you are getting some ideas of your own ~ it’s been great collaborating with you!
VP, Strategic Accounts