Customer centricity: Ascertaining customer needs during changing times

Piramal Pharma Solutions is a CDMO offering end-to-end development and manufacturing solutions across the drug life cycle. Here Saher Williams, Head of Customer Centricity at Piramal explores how business's can build strategies around customer relationships

The focus on customers and their needs is central to the success of any organisation. Delivering a delightful customer experience is not only expected, it’s essential for any business that hopes to progress. The better the experience customers have, the higher the chances of repeat business and positive reviews, with less friction from complaints and returns.

Organisations need to understand the expectations of the customer in order to serve them better. It is important to understand what kind of interaction the customer is looking for. They may need a transactional experience, which is typically inexpensive, quick, low-touch, and without any substantive relationship; they may require a consultative experience, which features high interaction, strong relationships, advice sharing, and commensurate value- pricing; or they may need a hybrid solution, offering a choice of ways to work with your organisation. However, understanding their needs might be a bit more complex than the three situations highlighted. As Steve Jobs, co- founder of Apple, rightly said, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new. Customers do not buy ‘things’. They buy the experiences that those ‘things’ are able to deliver.”

Exploring the value proposition concept:

A value proposition statement is the articulation of the measurable value of the experience that an organisation or individual will get from an offering, where (Value = Benefits minus Cost). A value proposition must include the following elements:

  • Capability – What can you do for a customer?
  • Impact – How will you help the customer to succeed?
  • Cost – What must the customer pay for the privilege?

When understood and implemented properly, a value proposition is a powerful tool to help in determining the organisation’s capability to succeed.

Focus on customer experience that delivers profit:

The generally understood concept of the customer experience being based on price and functionality is no longer sufficient. Although organisations around the world have started focusing on the quality of customer interactions, it doesn’t give a very strong correlation between customer experience and customer loyalty. Customer experience, when used in a structured value proposition-building model that is linked to financial and customer performance, helps business leaders in making operating decisions that hold the strongest potential for performance and profit pay-off for their organisation.

Application and implementation of the value proposition, in this model, focuses on three areas of implementation:

  1. Alignment of value: for customers, with your employees, and with your suppliers.
  2. Sales and marketing tools: how to help your sales and marketing team create value and sales opportunities.
  3. Ideas for new strategic marketing tools.

A fully aligned organisation has one paramount and unifying objective: maximising customer value and thereby maximising shareholder value. However, this can’t be achieved simply by implementing new tools or changing culture. In assuming responsibility over the customer experience, the greatest challenge is managing consistency in messaging across the entire organisation, including hand-offs, as customer interactions move from marketing to sales to success and support teams.

Overcoming barriers: People, process and technology

The elements of a successful customer experience strategy are as follows: it is driven by marketing, it is consistent across the organisation, and it can be tracked. Let’s take a closer look at the obstacles to success. Inefficiencies in internal processes, inadequate data insights, and lack of alignment across internal teams are the greatest barriers in delivering effective customer experiences.

Managing the B2B customer experience isn’t easy, as it requires a complete shift in terms of understanding the customer needs and determining the strategies and tactics to be deployed. But the execution can still fall flat if teams, channels, and technologies aren’t in sync.

Alignment across teams

Two of the three highest ranking barriers to success are inefficient internal processes and lack of alignment across teams. They can be addressed by updating the system that facilitates effective cross-functional collaboration.

Outdated organisational structures simply do not support effective customer experience strategies.

Once visibility is achieved, organisations can align their members in cross functional teams, and take initiatives towards a unified strategy, shared business objectives, and revenue goals. To deliver effective customer experiences, there should be a consistency in story narrated by different teams through various channels and technologies at each stage of the customer’s journey.

Organizations that are strongly aligned with shared business objectives are three times more likely to be effective at delivering consistent customer experiences.

Inadequate data insights cripple performance analysis

Effectively measuring the customer experience from end-to-end continues to elude even the savviest organisations. The final barrier to success is tracking and reporting correct metrics. Most organisations are oblivious of the need to document each customer’s journey to identify gaps in content for specific stages or personas. Without this insight, it’s nearly impossible to optimise content at each stage or accurately measure conversions.

In conclusion, it is evident that the customer-experience challenge for B2B companies is growing. B2B companies share a common goal with B2C companies in terms of the need to build strategies around the core of customer relationships. However, one thing is clear: carefully understanding the intricacies of these relationships and striking an appropriate balance of human & digital interactions is the key to success.

Featured Companies

Piramal Pharma Solutions (more information, website)