Customer Centricity & Analytics Blog

Customer Centricity 2017 Conference Takeaways

You missed it! And now you're probably saying "aw shucks" or if you're like me, something much more colorful. I wish you had been there. It was awesome. But sometimes we just cannot be in two places at once, so here's the high-speed espresso summary for you. If you want more of the blow-by-blow action, read this post instead.

Key Takeaway #1 - Snap-to-Grid Measurement

It's been painfully obvious for awhile that getting great insights stops the moment you move from one part of the organization to the other. Want to understand marketing effectiveness? You cannot do it without finance. Want to make a more accurate sales plan? You've got to align with marketing. So what do the most successful firms do to surpass these organizational silos? They snap to a grid.

Snap-to-grid measurement is my term for aligning everything that can be measured under the core 3-5 metrics that actually matter. Not only are all activities aligned to these measures but so is accountability! Here's an example from the conference:

  • Scale - Do we have enough unique players? What is the sell-through rate?
  • Time - How many session days are played? How much engagement?
  • Money - What is the average spend per person?
  • Loyalty - What is the Net Promoter Score? What does our VOC analysis say?

Note how specific these are to the business. You cannot just pick up any four metrics (AECR model, anyone?) and assume they will work for your business. There's a ton of deep thought that goes into asking, what matters most? It took this business a year to round up all the reports, thoughtfully consider what to track and gain acceptance.

Even better is the role of the data science group. Not surprisingly, this team is tasked with proactively telling product owners when their metrics are heading south so the product owners can take action. And what do the product owners often say, "That can't be right." Yep, they do. But here's the difference in snap-to-grid measurement. The data science team replies, "Well, if you want to explain why this number is down to the CEO, the numbers will support you" which is a very nice way of saying two things; 1) the number are right and 2) you are accountable. Boo-yah!

Key Takeaway #2: The Sheer Power of Voice of Customer

Professor Pete Fader likes to say, "If you do not know the value of each customer, then you cannot be customer centric." Therefore, I believe the obvious correlation is "If you are not collecting the voice of your customer, then you cannot be customer centric." There was not a single customer-centric leader missing VOC data, and yet, I know it is often an afterthought.

Customer voice, when used appropriately, single-handedly provides validation on any number of analysis assumptions. During a thought leadership dinner prior to the conference, Zach Anderson from Electronic Arts emphasized the need for unbiased survey questions and open text answers "even if customers just want to write f*** you 120 times."

Later, this was backed up by Joe Megibow who felt so strongly about VOC information that he suggested starting with it before running any quantitative analysis. "There are so many confounding events that unless you use voice of customer you may not realize what's actually happening." Which does bring us back to this tried and true quote:

Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers. - Ross Perot

Key Takeaway #3: Customer-Centric Transformation

All this excitement, and especially the second day simulation game, led to one big question, "How do we become more customer centric?" Naturally, the answer is, "It's complicated."

Like any major transformation, there are a number of forces working against you. One of the largest is ... the organizational chart. It is set up to be product-centric from conception. Business units are organized by product or product groups. Sales is set off in a silo, often at odds with marketing, as Tiffini Bova gently explained during the event. The stability of the organizational structure actually works against transformation. Piling on are metrics, incentives and accountabilities often misaligned which further dig in the resistance.

It's easy to see how one bright spark of customer-centricity can get extinguished. Therefore, we need to see customer-centricity as more of a "customers leading companies to the solutions they want" revolution.

It's easy to see how one bright spark of customer-centricity can get extinguished. Therefore, we need to see customer-centricity as more of a "customers leading companies to the solutions they desire" revolution.

Bill Schlough explained the "Fan First" operations of the San Francisco Giants. They look at all customer touchpoints to resolve friction. This includes ticketing innovations such as helping their fans resell tickets for a profit which the fans alone keep. The fan-first mentality is so deeply ingrained, they read positive and negative letters from fans aloud at each executive meeting. Does your company do that?

Yes, let's reduce friction in the customer experience for everyone, but let's not forget the value and corresponding motivations behind each customer.

So it may sound repetitious but in any transformation, CEO buy-in is required, executive team buy in is equally important, then aligned metrics supported by voice of customer driven analysis. So yes, let's reduce friction in the customer experience for everyone, but let's not forget the value and corresponding motivations behind each customer. Customer centricity helps us create premium offerings, build loyalty, innovate and drive long-term value to the bottom line. This precision is what the customer-centricity revolution is all about.

Allison Hartsoe is CEO of Ambition Data, a consulting firm determined to help companies grow through the innovative use of customer data. She has a fondness for Schrödinger's Cat.

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