Hannibal had Cannae, Napoleon had Austerlitz, and the Customer has you business. Not the CIO, not the heads of Marketing, Digital Commerce, and not your shareholders. Next Wednesday, 2 December 2015, marks 210 years since the Battle of the Three Emperors, sealing a victory for France and the defeat of the Austrian Empire. It was brilliance of planning, understanding, execution and more than a bit of calculated recklessness. Just as Hannibal had used a shocking double-envelopment move against a superior force of Romans in the third century BCE, Napoleon used a series of feints to lure the enemy into a trap, and won. What do you have to match that?
Both of the victories came because the victors understood the rivals on a very deep level. They had watched their movements, and learned the behaviours of their leaders. Through careful planning and a series of tactical steps, and despite losses along the way, Napoleon and Hannibal both used careful strategy and boldness of vision to reach their goals.
As we head into the most intense part of the corporate season, when revenue and profit are made or broken, we step back and ask: were we prepared? Did we anticipate the customer’s true wants and needs? Did we create the compelling offers, delivered at the right time to the right audience? The leaders of Napoleon’s Grande Armée were highly motivated, but so was the enemy. Both sides had similar armour and training, and both knew the terrain adaquately. Strategy made the difference.
Consider your ‘strategy.’ Is it an IT strategy or a customer strategy? If it is a ‘customer strategy,’ who has tested the elements of the customer journey to understand the weak points and the strong points? When there are three app strategies, one for the website, and two for mobile (mobile web and native web), the chances for inconsistency and frustration increase.
Who managed the ‘closed loop’ on the customer experience and customer feedback? Typically when a customer tries to provide negative feedback in a survey questionnaire, we simply extend the questions, branch deeper and deeper, ostensibly to get to the heart of the issue, but obviously to cause the customer to quit the survey and let their frustration fester.
Entering 2016, the customer is your Napoleon. They are armed with a strategy of playing one vendor off against another, of using social media to acquire information and inform decision making, of arriving at the best deal for themselves and their friends or cohorts. They care little for you or your brand, and everything about themselves as their brand, which you enhance for them. They want to speak a command, swipe or gesture for a purchase or find information, for a machine or device/gadget to warn them about upcoming events, and it should all be on a mobile device unless they expect it to be otherwise. And they expect it to be otherwise because that is what makes most sense to them, not because they feel that they are capitulating to conform to your processes.
In the end they should say, “I would never leave this company because its goods/services are just THAT good.”
How do you think you would fair: are you organized correctly to avoid your Austerlitz? If not, how are you going to go about changing your thinking?
If you are interested in how to re-think the way that you architect the layers of a customer-centric IT environment, you might want to read some new research: Technologies for CRM and the Emerging Customer Engagement Hub, http://www.gartner.com/document/3167017 .
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