As the leader of your business, you invest time, effort, cash and resources in fine-tuning your company to produce the perfect product, cost-effectively and on time. With all this great progress are you enjoying the rewards of higher sales revenues, greater profits and great customer retention?
If not, there will be a reason so let’s ask another question… What have you done to fine tune the way you engage with your customers?
In the same way that things change quickly in the world of production, efficiency and technology, things also change quickly in the way customers operate. This means that it’s just as important – some say more important – to refresh the way we manage the relationships with our customers.
Unlike the machines and the technology in your business which behave consistently and predictably, your customers vary greatly in terms of their needs, expectations, behaviours and drivers. As a supplier, your company’s ability to manage these variables to the benefit of your business is critical. We call this the “Critical Edge” and it requires constant honing to stay sharp.
Companies that manage this well have customers that place more business with them, pay higher prices and are more likely to endure the occasional error or blip in service. Customers like this are more likely to help you out when you need it because they value their relationship with you. Companies that don’t do this well are compared on price, service, quality and frequently fall down the pecking order in the customers’ eyes as being a commodity supplier.
Make a STRIDE© in your customer relationships
Just because the customer relationship is full of variables and intangibles this does not mean that it should be left to chance. It requires a process just like other aspects of your business and this process consists of distinct parts that can be improved.
The first of these elements is “Satisfaction” or in other words, “Understanding and Meeting Expectations”.
Outstanding Account Managers have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. This includes what their clients expect such as a faultless service, speed of response, expertise & advice, trust, integrity, leadership, commerciality, approachability, a trusted partner who looks after their interests and let’s not forget being enjoyable to work with.
Let’s look at what is expected from your company’s perspective. You will expect your team to grow their customer business, win profitable orders, accurate forecasting, have great customer knowledge and to be an exemplary ambassador of your company.
Many companies do not clearly communicate these expectations to their teams and most do not remind them of these and simply leave it to the ‘experience’ of the individual to have this clarity. Unfortunately, this clarity gets lost over time and periodic reinforcement of this is critical to hone this “Critical Edge”
Our STRIDE© Customer Engagement programme covers all of the key components of customer engagement including how the role breaks down into tasks, how your company wants to be recognised, what impression your customer has of you, what makes you different (and better) and what evolution looks like for your long-term relationship with each of your main customers.
We share with you our expertise in modernising this ‘Critical Edge’ of your business by embedding techniques, tools and methods to help you become the supplier of choice for your customers. It revolutionises the way you interact with your customers and helps you to become that supplier that wins the more attractive orders, at higher prices and that benefits from the preferential light in which your customers see you.
The STRIDE© program forms part of our wider ADVANCE methodology and is a great introduction to the strategic development of your company.