Using the Voice of the Customer to Create an Outside in Plan

In my last post I discussed three key elements for strategic planning:
  1. Use the voice of the customer to create an outside-in plan
  2. Ensure the plan is well understood by employees
  3. Integrate the plan in your management system

Let's focus on the first element: an outside-in approach.

Your business in constantly changing. Agreed? The individuals closest to this change are your customers. Still with me? By tapping into their knowledge base, you stay ahead of the curve and create strategy that can live, grow and adapt with your organization.

Your customers know what is happening in their business. They know where they want to be in the next 12-24 months and they can tell you what you need to do to be a partner in getting them there. So to have a dynamic and organic plan, you have to be connected to your customers and you need to have deep relationships with your most strategic customers.

How do you do this? Through Customer Advisory Councils (CACs). This is a formal program involving the decision makers from your top customers (define top as largest revenue, most profitable, or most strategic). 

Geehan Group research shows most B2B companies have 80% of their revenue tied up in as little as 20% of their accounts. What does this look like for your organization? Segment your base and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find this is true.

Imagine what you can learn about your direction and strategies from the customers driving 80% of your revenue. Now imagine the impact these customers can have on future growth when you start building relationships with them and enabling them to advocate on your behalf. 

During the initial meeting you can gain market insight to help drive your strategic plan. At a follow-up meeting you can validate elements of the plan or gain input for your product/service/solution roadmap, brand position, get the idea.

This group becomes an integral part of your strategy development process. They also become tightly linked with your company and an advocate for your success.

In the next blog we'll look at what to do with information gained from your Customer Advisory Council.

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