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Growth · 4 March '19

The four P’s to creating an irreplaceable organisation to your best customers

In 2015 one of the biggest and well known credit card companies lost out to a 16 year relationship, 112 million customers and billions in revenue.

That company was AMEX.

This didn’t happen overnight. This was a pattern of apathy that many businesses young and old, big and small fall into. Whereas there are always other factors that contribute to the loss of customers. In almost all cases there are three factors present:

  • They take their customer relationships for granted (expectation bias);
  • They mistake convenience to buy for commitment to their brand (perceived value bias);
  • Perhaps most importantly. The company has no clear, distributed and owned plan throughout their business for customer growth and relationship success (success bias).

We can fall prey to biases that tell us a particular comforting story about the world we’re now in with our customers. It’s only when trouble leers to disturb this idyllic picture we are motivated to take action.

In the end customer defection and a company’s inability to retain its best customer rests first and always on the leaders of a business.

If you’re not leading with your customers, whether you see it or not you’re probably losing.

No customer relationship is safe

No one contact is a customer and no one contact is protected against the unexpected.
Unless you have a known, understood, proven and practised plan for customer growth and relationship success. You’ll be vulnerable to inevitable circumstances like:

  • Contacts moving
  • Company restructures
  • Tougher procurement conditions
  • Unexpected competitors

whether you’re a business who has hundreds of sales and customer serving professionals or just a small customer success and account management team.

The importance of these next four P’s I’m going to share is critical to success corporately with your customers. It is shared implicitly by many of the most well known and coveted brands today that have fanatically loyal customers and initiatives that continually create experiences their customers stay for.

Let’s break this down first. The four P’s are below:

PHILOSOPHY

The philosophy is designed to create a vision for what you want customer engagements to look like across your business. Without a clear vision you will have an organisation living out customer values that do not achieve your ideal result. It’s all about WHY…

Think Zappos ‘Wow philosophy’ and the inspired book ‘Delivering Happiness’.

PRINCIPLES

Principles are the guiding system of beliefs that support the expression of the philosophy. An example ‘What we do with our customers attention matters’. Defining core principles helps for every aspect of your business to deepen their conviction around the importance of what they do.

Think Ray Dalio and his book ‘Principles’ based on his company Bridgewater.

PRACTICES

Practices are the specific identified competencies needed to learn, improve or add that will help teams and departments deliver excellence and results. The importance of understanding your talent is critical to delivery.

Think Chick-fila who do this wonderfully. Any search on their employees and customer experience shows they’ve trained them well. They’ve grown 13% a year five years in a row.

PROCESSES

Processes include the plans, strategies and tactics that need to be managed, measured and mastered. This ensures the results you want to deliver are possible and most importantly repeatable.

Think Micoscan now Omron – in a study of customer defection they were marked as an example company for measuring and managing customer success and learning quickly from mistakes.

What next?

Good companies should never have to lose great customers. If you don’t know if your business across departments has a shared philosophy, principles, practices and processes for customer success, then it’s time to take action.

Remember if you’re not leading your customers your losing them!