My post last week on Strategy, Selling and Segmentation generated some interesting internal dialogue. To a large degree, it was, in the words of Tiffani Bova, helping us remember “the things we think we think.” That is, it reminded many of us of some things that we take for granted in our thought processes and decision making.
At the same time, it also was a reminder that, as a business, we need to strike a balance between doing what is best for our business and doing what customers want. Yes, customers are more empowered than ever, but that you as a business should cater to their every whim. There are still some business fundamentals. When I hear things like “The Internet means every business is a Global Business”, I cringe. Just because you CAN sell to anybody (or that anybody can buy from you), does not mean you should.
As Frank Cespedes book (referenced in the last post) reminds us, there is an opportunity cost for anything we do—it is not just the cost of doing it that has to be considered but also the things we can’t do because we spent our resources on that thing. If we sell to an international customer, what is the cost of support? What changes do we need in other business processes? All of a sudden that “easy” sale can turn pretty costly. You always have to assess the overall impact on your business.
That being said, with, as my colleague Jake Sorofman wrote, Customer Experience emerging as the new battlefield, organizations must learn how to balance customer experience and business value. With that in mind, I remembered a blog post I wrote while I was at Adobe (that old post can still be found here on the CustomerThink web site). In it, I talked about an approach to assessing CX efforts in the context of business value. Graphically, the approach looked like this:
The idea being that you should assess projects from both the value to the customer and the business ROI. Projects that are low on either dimension typically don’t make sense to do in the customer experience era. Generating a lot of business ROI at the expense of CX is not a viable long term strategy. Similarly, focusing on customer value without helping the business does not make sense.
The best projects are ones that deliver high customer and business value. But what about the next ones? This approach advocates evaluating the next level of projects with a slant toward greater customer value. Why? Because most of our businesses need to OVERCORRECT to learn to be customer centric. An old friend, Sue Aldrich–an analyst with The Patricia Seybold Group, illustrated this with a great analogy.
Fold a piece of paper in half. Now try to flatten it.
To do it, you OVERCORRECT, folding it the other way.
That is what businesses need to do to learn to be customer-centric.
Ultimately, it is a balancing act, but make sure you are getting that balance right. Everything you do should produce value for your business and for customers. The customer may always be right, but what they are right about may not be best for your business. If that is the case, you should not feel it is something you must do. It won’t always make for easy decisions, but if you develop balanced strategies it will be easier to deliver balanced execution.
Read Complimentary Relevant Research
Four Ways for CIOs to Cultivate Digital Dexterity in Leadership and the Workforce
To thrive in the digital era, enterprises need digital dexterity as an organizationwide competency. CIOs can boost their value by developing...
View Relevant Webinars
Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.