Want your web to better reflect where you want to go? Start with a People-First Formula.
Jun 15, 2015
Organizations disappointed with their their web/digital results often fail to identify and understand the internal processes that are letting them down. By aligning their internal resources to operate with customer centricity, backed by education and empowerment, an organization can then set itself up to deliver the right digital experiences and reap the intended rewards.
In light of the way digital is transforming and reshaping the way many of us do business, a lot of organizations facing less than stellar web numbers are turning to their data in the hope that they will reveal sweeping insights, a new course to plot, or an issue to rectify. But often the real issues reside before the data has even been tabulated. Here are a couple questions that’ll frame this discussion:
- What’s your organizational focus – selling products or services or solving customer needs?
- How confident are you that your employees are mining for the right data, AND they have the education, experience and empowerment to make the right decisions?
If you don’t know these, how sure can you be that your presence and content in the marketplace will resonate with customers?
It’s easy to forget that the people behind these numbers are, in fact, just that –people. Emerging through this onslaught of technical data is the underlying importance of human behavior; from the employees actively operationalizing the strategy of the c-suite to the people at the other end doing the purchasing. Website traffic, video views, webcast attendance – they’re all numbers that shed some light on how well your organization’s value is being translated to the customer and how well they’re absorbing that value and advocating on your behalf. That journey relies so heavily on your organization embracing a customer-centric focus, and in turn aligning, educating and empowering your employees to act on the right data with empathy and context.
Many miss that part, however, and act without truly looking into how well equipped they are to uncover, curate and deliver the right messages – stories of value, so to speak. In today’s marketing world most are championing the efficacy of content, or a method in which to deliver information to the audience that promotes education and action. However, it’s not enough for organizations to enlist the help of agencies to dive deep into their target market and curate content and digital experiences; trying to reshape the way in which you engage with your audiences simply from the outside will translate into hot air. Instead, it’s critical to connect/engage with customers from deep within your organization and within every channel, and use customer insights to shape your processes and outputs, including the stories of value you communicate.
Let’s remember, content’s effectiveness is contingent on the way the organization embodies the new story. What can truly define your value-translation to your customers is how well aligned your internal organization is to telling that story. Hiring a caddy to walk alongside you on a golf course might feel like you know how to play, but if you don’t know how to swing a club, what’s the point? Same goes for marketing. Getting a big agency to re-do your site or launch a big campaign around a new product won’t do anything unless your organization is aligned with its customers to back it up. There’s no room for error and in the age of social, definitely no room to hide.
Again, it comes back to focus. What are you focused on? People or products? If you’re a traditionally product-focused enterprise realizing that you need to listen to your customers more, but thinking it merely takes tweaking your approach or changing the way you talk about yourself, think again. The same (misaligned) bureaucracy will inevitably impede effective decision making, you won’t be listening for and measuring the pertinent signs of progress (data), and your customers won’t feel like they’re being valued.
So what does this realignment look like, what can you do to ensure the people within your organization are listening and acting on the right customer values:
1. Start from the beginning.
It all starts with your purpose and vision. Identify your core niche, what it is that you do better than your competitors. Then remember where today’s industry strength is being derived from- the customer experience. Your mission now is to marry that niche of your organization with the best possible experience for your customers.
2. Buy into the outside-in, from the top down.
Recognizing the importance of customer-led processes and initiatives is half the battle. The other half of this evolution will be the adoption by the c-suite down to middle management, championing and empowering their teams to push decisions and action around the customers’ needs.
Think back to when Apple launched iOS7. Here was a customer-centric initiative, being celebrated by the c-suite with genuine enthusiasm and almost giddyness (“no virtual cows were harmed in the making of this one”). Now, while Apple has unquestionably been at the forefront of customer centricity in what they produce, this redesign was a drastic shift from the old operating system, with some not-so-slight jabs at “old apple” thinking. This couldn’t have been easy, as most of this new operating system was wiping clean what Jobs himself had defined and helped create. While many will only see the beautiful advertising and message of the new system, most don’t realize the internal realignment behind the scenes that lead to top executives being fired – primarily due to a different customer experience vision and subsequent misaligned bureaucracy. Here’s a quote from Tim Cook shortly after the launch, giving insight into the shift,
“We want to be honest and straightforward. We admit when we’re wrong and have the courage to change. And there can’t be politics … No bureaucracy. We want this fast-moving, agile company where there are no politics, no agendas”
They listened to their customers, changed tack, ensured the necessary internal buy in of key personnel, and then launched yet another successful OS with a supporting campaign of storytelling.
3. Identify the results you want, before you pick your team.
Executing this realignment will need clear, measurable operational plans. Start by defining your end objectives, rather than starting with your org chart. Many realignments fail for this very reason, believing the best approach is to start sketching out who should be in charge of what.
One of the most critical plans to implement will be a voice of the customer program, or VOC. These plans will (hopefully now) seek customer feedback, both inbound and outbound, from the customer. These feedback loops will help shape the iterative process of your products/services, as well as the decision making ability of your people.
By ensuring the customer is a common thread throughout these action plans and realignment programs—with outlined quantifiable metrics and target—you can determine the skills and qualities needed to meet this shift, and how your current base of employees matches up.
4. Measure, Refine, Repeat.
The most successful alignments hold themselves accountable. The chief determinants of a realignment like this will revolve around the customer’s relationship with you and your product/service. From each customer touch, to purchase, through to feedback – track, measure, report, act. Investing and growing your data analytics around your customer has a positive correlative benefit: organizations that lead data-driven marketing report far higher levels of customer engagement and market growth than those that aren’t quite harnessing their data.
By looking and adjusting intrinsically, many organizations will start to see the positive effects on their external numbers. Understanding this environment is as important as the one you serve.
Learn more about the Marketing Change Management group.