In convening executive level customers to serve on Boards there are a few cardinal rules that must be adhered to. First – as Anne Taylor posted last week – reciprocal value is critical. What’s in it for your customers , and what’s in it for you. Next, understanding the customer perspective and reorienting your organization to think like the customer is essential. Many businesses believe they have a customer-first strategy, but when we speak to customers they often do not have an experience that aligns to this strategy. One central component to making a customer-first strategy effective is communications. Consider the following tips:
Elevate the role of communications
Often we hear that executives don’t understand what is being communicated to them by vendors or that they are hearing things for the first time in a Board meeting. Customer communication should be central to your overall strategy – not just that of the marketing organization or Chief Customer Officers.
Drive consistency across channels
Just as you market to prospects across multiple channels, you need to make sure that you are using all channels to share the breadth and depth of how you can bring value to your existing customers. One-on-one conversations with account teams and service delivery; thought leadership and content; in-person and virtual events and forums; client newsletters; all represent implicit and explicit opportunities to get the word out in ways that clients can hear it. Making the communications consistent is key.
Educate account teams
All the messaging in the world won’t help if every single person who regularly talks to your customers does not have the same knowledge about your company, what you offer, and how you bring value. Build a more formal approach to cross-training your account teams – from sales, to management, through to service delivery people – about the full breadth of what the company can do, and refresh the knowledge frequently. Those conversations are often the first line of communication your customers have and it is critical to get them right.
Bring customers together
Customers sharing their experiences with peers is an effective way to get the word out about all the different ways companies are delivering value. Your customers are doing interesting, impactful and unique work and are often excited to share their experiences and intrigued to hear from others. Create collaborative forums to bring customers together to keep the information flowing.
Customer communications is complex because it resides in many different parts of a company. Reorienting your organizations to consider the customer perspective is an important step in becoming customer-first. Ask yourself – are your customers getting what they need to grow with your company?