Will customer expectations be sustained, in actuality, once products, services, equipment and software interfaces are designed, installed and in production?
Short customer lifecycles represent one type of customer experience scenario. However, let’s say your company creates equipment with lifecycles of up to 15 years or more. That is a long time to maintain a customer relationship.
How will your organization realistically deliver: today, tomorrow and in the future?
- First of all, capital equipment purchased today is smart and connected by sensors. However, that equipment grows smarter over its lifecycle in response to advances in the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem.
- Also, while the initial investment is transactional, delivering legendary credible customer experience over time is translational. How can equipment and interfaces continue to deliver value amidst changing manufacturing, business and workforce environments?
- Finally, the organization you are today may transform into a different entity over time. So might your client’s organization. Can you continue to deliver credible customer experience to sustain each other’s success over the long haul?
Credible customer experience is tested the longer the duration of the client relationship.
Realistically delivering credible customer experience leverages the Voice of the Customer. Plugging your organization into the customer’s journey starts long before the sale is consummated. The customer’s voice reflects not only the buyer’s journey, but also end user journeys throughout the equipment lifecycle.
Four strategic business scenarios can impact delivery of credible customer experience over a customer’s lifecycle. Challenge internal teams to be proactive and listen for these growth opportunities.
Vendor Longevity. Merger and Acquisition is a key tactic, as well as strategy, for competitive market expansion. Buyers wonder – and factor in – whether they still will be doing business with the same vendor throughout a capital equipment lifecycle.
Client Longevity. Similarly, conduct due diligence when acquiring new customers. Is this particular customer a good investment of time and resources? What is the probability of client acquisition during the lifecycle of your mutual relationship?
Client Workforce Longevity. What percent of the workforce operating the equipment and software will retire during the course of the customer lifecycle? Will this scenario impact the ability of your organization to deliver and sustain credible customer experience to a younger workforce?
Supplier Workforce Longevity. Similarly, ponder the rate of workforce churn within your own organization. Is current leadership even going to be at the helm 5, 10, 15 years from now? What type of tech workforce hiring strategy does your organization have in place to support a highly credible level of customer experience today, tomorrow and in the future?
Can your organization scale to complement your customers’ organizations?
If high-value accounts transform themselves during the course of their relationship with your organization, will your products, services, equipment and software scale to meet the challenge?
In my playbook, strategic scalability of your customer experience strategy is a critical factor impacting customer success and customer retention. Deliver and sustain credible customer experience over the duration of your equipment lifecycle. Maintain efficiency, capacity and scalability.
Business models and strategy may change. Will a client company scale down, becoming a company of smaller companies or even a consortia? Can a national client scale up, becoming an internationally competitive organization?
Manufacturing tolerances and flexibility may be challenged in response to new opportunities. Are your products, services and platforms responsive, adaptable and scalable? What happens if a key client pivots to a manufacturing model which emphasizes their ability to generate an equal number of new and existing products?
Technology advances require a collaborative workforce hiring strategy. The true test of sustaining credible customer experience is the ability of vendor-side internal teams to collaborate with client-side teams in making series of transitions over time. How cross-functional, interchangeable and scalable are your respective workforces?
Delivering credible customer experience requires your organization to be realistic.
Be realistic. Assess your organizational capability to deliver on pre-sale promises, post-sale.
Can your business model, manufacturing capabilities and capacity, and workforce create, deliver and sustain incredible customer experience throughout lengthy customer lifecycles?
Identify a core set of current customers exquisitely well-suited to your current customer experience model. Similarly, target future customers well-aligned. You both will have more than enough challenges to weather together over time.
The key to realistically delivering credible customer experience is aligning what you actually do with what your customer actually requires. Determine that information through Voice of the Customer.
Babette Ten Haken is a management consultant, strategist, speaker and coach focused on customer success for customer retention. She traverses the interface between human capital strategy for hiring and developing collaborative technical and non-technical teams. She serves manufacturing, IT and engineering intensive companies. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
Image author: dizain. Image source: Fotolia