Typically, customer base triage is conducted in reaction to a large number of customer casualties. These casualties are in the form of loss and/or defection to the competition.
And this defection has been going on for quite a while. However, like a slow leak in a tire, you miss the signs that something is amiss. In fact, you only realize you are in trouble when the warning light goes on. At that point, you no longer are in firm – or safe – control of the vehicle.
Regardless of the role you play in your organization, when that warning light goes on, everyone goes into a crisis mode. Without a solid plan for customer base triage, you are unable to prioritize which customers are most viable. And which ones are not.
Ultimately, customer base triage indicates lack of preventive, predictive and prescriptive strategies and processes to anticipate customer needs.
First, performing customer base triage raises a red flag. Your people are doing their best serving themselves, rather than your customers.
When employees are more focused on meeting their own KPIs, than in best serving their customers in a proactive and anticipatory manner, things can go south in a hurry. Either the sales force in dedicated to ensuring they, themselves, have jobs next quarter by meeting quota. Or, customer service is busy serving as many customers as possible. However, they do not grasp the aggregated Big Picture from the big data created by all those individual conversations. Then again, while engineering and operations are busy meeting increased output demands, downtime and number of defects increase.
Next, the need to perform customer base triage is a red flag warning. Your products and services are out of sync with stated and unstated customer needs.
Lengthy sales cycles and subsequent product and service contract lifecycles create a false sense of product-fit security. A lot can happen in terms of technical innovation in the months – and even years – between purchase, implementation and end of lifecycle.
Especially in the challenging industrial Internet of Things ecosystem. And what business, at this point, is not impacted by the incredible pace and cadence of Industry 4.0 innovation?
Customers anticipate that any vendor’s products, services and people will become better and better over the duration of their relationship with an organization. However, how can better and better customer experience “happen” when your people are self-serving, rather than client-focused?
Then, a customer base triage is a strong signal that your business model requires a pivot.
Sometimes, you realize that your core competencies have changed and your deliverables no longer are suitable for your former customer base. However, your innovations are exquisitely-well aligned with those future customers you successfully are acquiring. When this pivot scenario happens, you can migrate past and current customers. These customers also will refer you to even more future customers. Why? Because you have always had their backs, even as you pivot.
However, the following scenario is more typical when a business model pivot is long-overdue. Last week, I spoke to a client about her plan for ISO 9001:2015 certification. The first question I asked her was: “When’s the last time you took a look at the business model I created for you back in [I won’t even tell you the date, to protect the not-so-innocent]?” This certification involves full-tilt, holistic implementation of Quality Management Systems.
Regardless of whether – or not – your organization is in the midst of this certification, well, you know her response. Her business model is collecting proverbial cyber dust on her hard drive. So, I suspect, is yours.
Yesterday’s business models are difficult to sustain in today’s digital ecosystems. Even the business models created by your family-owned business’s founding members. As a result, hiring strategies and consequently your people, sales and manufacturing processes, and even your matured startups products and services, quickly lose potency, relevancy and value for clients.
What matters most is to perform customer base triage before you need it.
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Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of One Millimeter Mindset™ serves organizations as a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention, especially in challenging Industrial Internet of Things environments. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association. Image source: Fotolia