As the person responsible for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in my six-state division of the American Cancer Society, I’m leading an interdepartmental team through a process to create a 3-year CRM strategic plan. Or I should say, they’re leading me because we had a truly awesome two-day planning session at the end of April where we came up with a draft plan.
However, since then, I’ve learned that people define “customer-focused strategy” and “customer-focused culture” to mean different things. I realized I needed to come up with a definition of each since failure to provide clarity at this foundational level could make the plan more difficult to implement.
Last Friday I reached out to some of my fellow customer service bloggers and posed this question: How do you define “customer-focused strategy?”
Service Untitled immediately rose to the challenge publishing a post the same day and a follow up post yesterday. He wrote:
Most simply, I would define “customer-focused strategy” as a view on business that puts customers at the center of business decisions.
At the same time I posed the question internally within my organization. One response that I received was:
– Focusing planning efforts around priority customer segments instead of an activity or project
– A strategy that focuses on maximizing involvement of a customer group, not an activity or project
Meikah at CustServ accurately pointed out that, for a strategy to be customer-focused, it must reflect the voice of the customer. She also clued me into a Webinar by Bob Thompson of CustomerThink (formerly CRMGuru.com)
Meikah also related an example of a strategy that wasn’t customer-focused.
In the hope of giving what customers want, Burger King positioned itself to be the best-grilled burger joint in the country. So they did, or so they thought. They were excited about their yummy grilled burgers. But to their surprise, their sales were not picking up. When they investigated, they found out that most customers of burger chains wanted a toy to go with their burger meal.
Bob Thompson would call that a “product-focused strategy.”
Meanwhile, I was reading other CRM blogs and Web sites although, by and large, I was disappointed with them. (Exceptions: PGreenblog and CustomerThink.com.) Paul Greenberg (who writes PGreenblog) wrote CRM At The Speed Of Light, 3ed, which was very helpful.
Based on the input from these and others, I tried to create a succinct definition of “customer-focused strategy” that incorporated their various points. Several sheets of scratch paper later, here’s what I call version 1.0:
Customer-Focused Strategy—A plan that emphasizes the needs of a particular customer segment over that of the organization.
I’m still not 100% satisfied with this definition. I invite your input as well, either as a comment below or in an e-mail to me.
How do you define “customer-focused strategy?”