Sometimes in entrepreneurial business we fall into the equivalent of playing a zone defense.
Why do we do this? Usually because we grow and things get busy.
We want to handle what the growing number of customers throws at us. So we hire people to do the jobs we can’t do by ourselves anymore. We bring in smart people who know Marketing, Sales, Engineering, Manufacturing, Services, Support, Accounting, Finance, IT, People. This frees us up to work on growth, partnerships and new ideas.
If we’re not careful, however, we start thinking of our business like the functions we’ve organized it into. Our talented team will start to run the company from the inside – out. Finding ways to optimize metrics in their area of responsibility. Finding ways to make the company work well for the employees.
How can you avoid falling into a zone defense?
Zone Defense Has Its Place
Sports teams adopt a zone defense because it enables them to effectively react to anything the opponent throws at them.
But let’s make some important distinctions about your customers:
1 – They’re not your opponents
2 – They’re not going to throw just anything at you
Your Customers Are Not Your Opponents
We react to opponents to preserve or advance our interests.
We are proactive with our customers to preserve and promote their interests.
Customers Won’t Throw Just Anything at You
If you’ve created your Marketing Strategy, you know who your customer is. You know which customers you should market to and work with. You know what you can offer them that’s unique.
You also know the key Processes in your company that deliver value. Your key processes are documented and Followed By All.
So you’re not going to create a zone defense. You’re going one-to-one! Your business is designed to deliver unique value to your customer at every step!
Creating a great customer experience means you look at your company from the outside – in. You look at it the way your customer does. You create your business to deliver a smooth, satisfying experience through each step of your customer’s journey with you.
The Customer Journey
Consider these big steps and the moments of truth in your customer journey:
- Awareness – How will a prospect learn about you and decide they want to know more?
- Sale – How will you ensure your product or service is a fit, the value is understood, and your customer has an accurate vision of the steps ahead to realizing value?
- Onboarding – How will we help the customer get started? How will we ensure they are learning what they need to know and doing what they need to do to achieve success?
- Use – How are our customers using our product or service? What can we learn from them to enhance our product. What can we teach them that our successful customers have learned to help them be more successful?
- Service – how will we work with a customer when they need help? How will we engage the community inside and outside our company to help them be a part of our tribe?
- Advocacy – How will we help our customers to advocate for our company and our service?
Align With the Customer, Not Another Business Function
When we look at our companies through the lens of the customers journey, everything else has a way of coming into alignment.
- Our talented functional leaders aren’t acting as silo’d experts in their function only – they are coordinating with all other functions to create a smooth customer journey.
- We’re not trying to figure out which new software to buy in one department – we look at which software investment is going to enhance or fix the experience a customer is having in their journey.
- We don’t have to handle a myriad of requests from customers for things we’re not expecting. We know our customers. We know what they want. We’ve built processes and systems to deliver.
- We don’t have missed expectations. A sales team selling with only their quota in mind will quickly point the finger downstream toward onboarding or service teams when expectations are missed and customer churn is on the rise. A sales team with their eye on a clear customer journey is empowered to set expectations that will be fulfilled.
- The list goes on …
Yes, we want our biz functions to be aligned. But not in a fragmented way (such as people or IT “getting aligned” with sales) … Not without looking at the whole picture. Sometimes to optimize the whole customer journey, you must sub-optimize a few parts. But you’ll do it and build your Scorecards accordingly to ensure your customer journey goes just right!
Are You Playing a Zone Defense?
Stop that! Look at your business like your customer does! Proactively engage with them in a one-on-one fashion. Help your team to build processes and systems that support a complete customer journey. When you do, you’ll help your customers experience a wonderful, satisfying journey in every step they take with your company!
What do you think? Comment below …