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Five tips toward a new metric assuring customer focus

A quick, true story — when delivering buyer insights years ago to a global manufacturing client — a name we all would recognize — the client leaders in the meeting were stunned by one of our key findings. Their products were top-notch as expected, but customers of all stripes were unhappy for a different reason. Many hadn't known who to contact for questions or service, and then struggled to access human contact in customer service calls.

On the spot upon hearing this, the COO asked his quality/Six Sigma executive, "What projects do we have in Customer Service?" The quality executive pulled up the file, glanced through it and had to respond that out of more than 100 formal improvements under way, zero were in Customer Service. Talk about a gap in priorities! Let's avoid the cliché, "What gets measured, gets done," and just say, "What was never initiated or finished is not getting done."

To add a powerful metric to any corporate scorecard, why not track the progress on customer-focused initiatives across the company? Then you keep senior managers abreast of projects enhancing customer experiences. Here are five tips to make this work:

  1. Carefully select projects according to:

    • The impact on customer loyalty/experience and/or on vendor choice
    • The effort and cost of making the enhancement — highest priority being projects of high impact/low cost, but high cost initiatives undertaken when impact deemed high enough
  2. In B2B, have initiatives underway at three levels – key accounts, business units (product or regional), and corporate or cross-functional.
  3. Report upward the # of projects on schedule/late or at-risk. Or with a small number of major projects, report progress.
  4. Tie some compensation to goals for individuals/teams responsible for the projects.
  5. Include the new metric in a scorecard or other metrics portfolio receiving monthly or quarterly review by senior management

Businesses tout customer-focus as a go-to-market strategy, but can they do that without accounting for customer-focused initiatives?

I'd say no — no customer initiatives, then no customer focus.

So let's start counting our customer initiatives.

About the Author

Jeff Marr

Jeff Marr

Marr provides thought leadership to Walker and the customer strategy profession. In keeping with the newest proven approaches, Marr designs services used in client engagements. This includes facilitating customer-driven action by clients at the corporate, functional and account team levels, and creating new measurement solutions. Formal approaches Jeff helped create and launch include value mapping, account engagement, strategic assessment, won/lost bid assessment, and assessing lost/diminished customers.

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