The actual reasons customers select a firm is the essence of what distinguishes that firm and makes it unique in the eyes of its best customers. A company’s operational and support functions–delivery, development, manufacturing, finance, HR, sales–each have a role in delivering an consistently excellent customer experience.
As with my popular post, Marketing’s Surprising Impact on HR, the point here is not that marketing offers a silver bullet. A well-founded marketing strategy is foundational to a great business, and makes important contributions far beyond the confines of the traditional “marketing” function.
Here are three quick examples of how marketing supports better operations:
1. Delight your customers by consistently delivering what they expect
This sounds rather simplistic, but my interviews with a firm’s customers always uncover value–often important value–that the firm wasn’t aware of. Not missing value, but rather value the firm delivers without being fully aware of I call this the firm’s “secret sauce” and generally involves the “how” more than the “what.” If something you do is an important part of why your firm gets selected, you want to ensure whatever it is get delivered to every customer every time.A firm's 'secret sauce' generally involves the 'how' more than the 'what.' Click To Tweet
2. Enlarge your company’s Business Development footprint
There’s endless talk about “everyone is a sales rep” and such. How well does that work out in practice? Typically, not so great. However, there are two proven ways to expand a company’s business development footprint, and neither requires sales training. (Familiarity with the sales process does add gas to the fire.)
- Make sure everyone knows the company’s story of how it creates value. That is, why your best customers select your firm, and how your firm’s products or services impact the customer’s overall business, not just the immediate need it addresses.
- Teach the difference between strategic and opportunistic business. You accept opportunistic business when it doesn’t interfere with strategic business. Most of us have stories from early in our careers when the boss said we should all be identifying sales opportunities. We dutifully make some introductions, only to have… nothing happen. After the process repeats a couple of times, people stop trying.
Now, consider an alternative scenario. If an employee uncovers a strategic opportunity, they have the knowledge and vocabulary to get the boss’s attention.
3. Optimize support resources by pushing decision making down
Whether it’s triaging resources at times of peak demand or going the extra mile in serving a strategic customer, well-placed discretion can have a giant impact on the customer experience.
Often, the required responses must be made in-the-moment, so they simply can’t be managed from above. With the two points in #2 above about expanding your business development footprint are in place, those in the trenches are well-equipped to make sure opportunistic customers get the best available service while the stops are always pulled out for strategic customers. Isn’t that how you want your employees to act?
If you’re a CEO or have broad responsibilities within your firm, be sure to check out Marketing’s Surprising Impact on HR.
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