The secret to an agile organisation: placing your customer at your strategic core.

December 5, 2017 Katy Roberts

A business strategy without placing your customer’s needs at the heart of every decision, every process and every action, is futile. And when you speak to Talmix consultant Sarah, you very quickly understand the importance of doing just that. Having worked with industry stalwarts and global leading brands like Goldman Sachs, GlaxoSmithKline and Nike, Sarah’s passion for the customer is palpable. She discusses Customer Effort, the importance of data segmentation and piecing insight together to empower a rapidly changing workforce, and delighting your customer-base.


When Customer Service outshines the Razzmatazz

I’ve worked for the Number 1 brands and I’ve worked with Challenger brands. Working with big, global, strong brands has led me to apply what I’ve learnt to work with an entirely new variety of challenger brands,” Sarah tells me. Having successfully led marketing strategies for many years, Sarah’s experience of both the client and agency side of the fence has meant that she truly understands the strategic importance of business agility and growth. But the key driver for Sarah’s delivery is understanding the needs of clients, and translating that accurately into a brief that is purpose-driven, and results-focussed. Sarah’s experience has seen her deliver into the Healthcare, Sport, Retail and Financial Services industries. “The great thing about having had the opportunity to move between industries is that it has enabled me to take my skillset and apply it.” Sarah is a functional expert – it doesn’t matter which industry you put her in, the organisation is still serving a customer (be it B2B or B2C), and you have the same duty to understand exactly what it is that drives them. “Working with large brands, you could have the largest marketing budgets in the world, and spend a huge amount of money on so many different parts of the marketing mix, but if you can’t get the simplest things right in the first place, you’re already getting it wrong,” she adds.


Forget Omni-channel – focus on Customer Experience

One of the biggest things I get asked to help organisations with is their own internal customer engagement. They want to ensure that their functional teams understand what customer engagement and customer satisfaction really means,” she tells me. Sarah shares that the biggest challenge for many brands is how they get their people to successfully understand their customers’ different worlds. “Unless they get it and can empathise, they simply don’t have the motivation to do the right thing.” Standing hand-in-hand with this is the art of allowing a customer to have a connected, seamless experience. And this is where organisations fall short. While many companies understand the need to transform digitally, just how far that extends is often overlooked. “The word ‘omni-channel’ is often overused and misunderstood. It’s jargon that has come into play, but everyone seems to have a different definition for what it truly means. For me, it’s about creating a seamless, connected, customer experience. I saw a quote in an article written by a big brand which had their customer(s) quoting “I want an omni-channel experience” Your customer doesn’t focus and discuss what each channel looks like. They simply want their needs to be met, when and where they expect them to be. Instead of focussing on what that channel looks like, organisations should be focussed on the end to end customer experience. That will very quickly define what their ‘channel’ looks like, and where they need to gear themselves up digitally, or otherwise,” she adds.

We speak about what Sarah’s views are on effective data management and how that is affecting organisational strategy. “Understanding Data is probably one of the biggest challenges that most businesses face today. Knowing how to get it, where to get it and what to do with it once you have it, is becoming increasingly important. And when it comes to brands, understanding how to piece everything together is where it truly challenges their core strategy. Unless it’s all pieced together, teams will simply feel disillusioned – they won’t want to contribute, simply because they don’t see how the puzzle fits together. Data is only as good as the questions you ask of it,” she says.


If we could look into the future…

I ask Sarah about her predictions for the world ahead, and more specifically, the economy and how organisations fit into that big picture. Sarah shares a few key insights:

  • The birth of the Customer Effort Metric: Organisations will be gearing themselves up towards thinking about Customer Effort: How easy it will be for their customers to do business with them. “If a company cannot answer that, then they need to stop all other efforts and spend time understanding this. Whether the answer is digital transformation, or new market segmentation, whatever it is, more and more companies are going to structure their strategies around understanding Customer Effort. We are bombarded, daily, by channels and chat and news. All businesses are fighting for people’s mind-sets. And where you may spend a lot of money on your marketing mix, if nobody is connecting the dots, you’re losing your customer.”
  • The growth of Customer Segmentation: Customer segmentation is another one of those activities we hear all the time. But it’s astonishing to hear how little time organisations actually spend on thinking about how they’re segmenting their customers and building personas. “If done well, and keeping it simple, it can lead to effective marketing and business development plans. If you can segment your customer base simply, it opens your business up to doing things far more effectively – like mapping a customer journey."
  • Breaking down functional silos in the Agile Organisation: The need to understand your customer is going to continuously grow. And for those organisations who are not taking the time to get to know their customer throughout, and build their growth strategies around the needs of their customer, they’re at risk of being limited to functional silos. Business agility will mean that by focussing on your customer, your entire organisation setup will change – it will influence how you design your team setup, which in turn will have knock-on effects that empowers your business. The traditionally un-engaged back office teams may now become engaged, customer-focussed, functions. “You can flex and react far more quickly where your team is working around customer needs”.


If you’re ready to become an agile organisation and transform your strategy to be ready for a new, customer-focussed one, and for an opportunity to work with someone like Sarah, then it’s time that you speak to Talmix.

About the Author

Katy Roberts

Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.

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