Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to strengthen your company’s relationships with your customers and increase the revenue generated by your service teams?
Good news: There is.
Even better news: It requires some hard work, but it’s not as complicated as you might think.The pathway to accomplishing this requires committing your organization to adopting truly a customer-centric strategy.
Nowadays, nearly every company is saying all the right things about prioritizing customer experience and customer satisfaction, while sharpening their focus on additional customer-focused terms and concepts.
Such companies may be on the right track, but most are falling short of capitalizing on important opportunities to add value for both their customers and generate potentially significant revenue for their own bottom line. The secret: reimagining how they nurture their most important customer relationships.
Before we go in-depth on how to accomplish this, let’s back up and spend a moment on what we mean by the term “customer-centric.”
According to Salesforce, being customer-centric means putting the customer at the heart of everything you do as a business, from marketing to sales to customer service touchpoints across every channel.
We believe the concept of “customer-centricity” is so fundamental to today’s B2B business landscape that we’ve published a comprehensive blog post on the benefits and characteristics of building a customer-centric business culture.
“The evolution toward becoming a truly customer-centric organization is both complex and long, and rightly so. It is the holy grail of unlocking the true potential of customer value.”
— Deloitte (“Customer-Centricity: Embedding it Into Your Organization’s DNA”)
What Is Customer-Centric Strategy?
Before launching in to everything you need to know about how to generate revenue by implementing a customer-centric strategy, let’s start with a definition of what we mean by customer-centric strategy.
Definition: Customer-Centric Strategy
A customer-centric strategy is a comprehensive, organization-wide business strategy that is dedicated to 1) putting the customer at the heart of everything you do, 2) developing a deeper understanding of each customer’s most important business objectives and 3) leveraging these deeper-level insights to help them achieve success.
Why Implement a Customer-Centric Strategy
We’ll explain this in greater detail as you read through the post, but in a nutshell — when implemented and executed effectively — the process of adding value for your customers is also proven to hold great potential to generate revenue for your company as well.
Much of the online research around “customer-centric” concepts are much more oriented to B2C business interactions. At GPT, however, we bring a distinctly B2B-focused perspective to this vitally important business strategy.
For example, Mailchimp, in a post titled “How to Create a Customer Centric Business Strategy,” offers such customer-centric best practices as:
- Know what your customers want
- Develop products and services that speak to those wants
- Operationalize customer empathy
- Work hard to directly interact with your customers
Online marketing giant HubSpot offers customer-centric advice like:
- Anticipate customer needs
- Collect customer feedback
- Be easily accessible
- Meet with customers in-person
- Provide proactive customer service
- Adopt customer service tools
- Look beyond the purchase
Make no mistake, these are helpful tips; but when you dig deeper you will discover that there is much more to the equation.
Using a Customer-Centric Strategy to Grow Revenue: How to Get Started
The idea of employing a next-level customer-centric business strategy may sound new, but we’ve been working on the art and science of customer relationships for several decades now.
Key concepts regarding the benefits of empowering your front-line service team that have been validated through real-life success stories include the following:
- Your service team members, especially your field service technicians, are an underutilized asset; field service techs typically interact with customers 10 times more frequently than the sales team.
- They may even be the face of your organization for many customers. They also tend to be a bit more trusted by the customer because they are there to help, not sell.
- Equipping them with proven customer-centric communication and relationship skills enables them to discover those valuable “deeper-level insights” into customers’ biggest goals and challenges that we mentioned above.
- Combining their enhanced understanding of each customer’s “big picture” with their existing skills and knowledge of your company’s unique ability to help positions your field techs to add value for your customers in unexpected or “outside the box” ways.
- This customer-centric-driven approach can transform them from traditional break-fix technicians into proactive problem solvers and trusted business advisers for your most important customers.
The intended result, and the typical outcome, is that you are not only nurturing stronger, longer customer relationships, you are also laying the foundation for ongoing revenue-generation opportunities. In the next section, we will take an in-depth look at these customer-centric principles and practices in action.
Customer-Centric Strategy in Action: Revenue Generation
As you can imagine, your customer-centric strategy has many benefits that cannot really be quantified in terms of dollars. However, it also positions you to generate new revenue that can absolutely be measured in terms of dollars.
Keeping closely in mind the scenario outlined above, in which your customer-centric strategy succeeds in positioning your front-line field technicians as proactive problem solvers and trusted business advisers, let’s examine some of the many ways this can lead to new revenue.
Being proactive and paying closer attention to each customer’s big picture creates multiple categories of opportunities to generate revenue through:
- New and expanded service contracts
- New sales of products and services
- Cross selling and upselling
- Customized value-added services
- Extended equipment upgrades
- Extended equipment and service subscriptions
- Premium pricing for added value
- Expanded scope of services
- Avoidance of “giveaways” to resolve customer concerns
Remember, customers will tend to be more open to hearing about the types of opportunities and solutions detailed above when presented, not in a sales call, but rather in a contextual, solution-focused conversation with their trusted front-line field service professional.
Here are three quick examples, two that connect to one of the potential revenue streams listed above, plus a third that touches on all of them:
|The ‘Power’ of Active Listening
A field service engineer in Korea was facing a very upset customer who needed replacement parts that were no longer manufactured. Using active listening skills, the field service engineer determined that the root cause of the customer’s frustration was actually his need to increase the power of his equipment. The engineer was then able to solve the problem by offering alternative new equipment that was actually cheaper than the requested parts.
Not only was the customer very thankful to get the extra power they needed at a price lower than what the parts would have cost, they were able to avoid stopping production to modify their equipment. And the equipment supplier made a six-figure sale of new equipment.
|The High Value of a Communication Breakthrough
The customer of a telecom network provider was demanding expanded scope and risk for an ongoing project, but was unwilling to pay for the additional work. By applying communication techniques learned in training to get to the heart of deeper customer issues, needs and goals, the service manager realized that the customer’s real concern was about financing, and that they would be willing to pay for the additional scope as long as the supplier could help finance the costs.
This realization enabled the supplier and the customer to reach common ground and move forward to close a half-million dollar deal.
|True Story: ‘Relationship Equity’
A sales account manager and field service manager were meeting with a key customer to discuss the final details of a large capital equipment purchase, when the leader of the customer team said: “This all sounds pretty complete. We just have a few questions that we want to talk over before we give you our final decision.”
Thinking that the customer wanted a moment alone with his team, the sales account manager said to his field service colleague, “Why don’t we step out and let them have their discussion?” But the customer surprised the account manager by responding, “No, if you wouldn’t mind leaving us for a moment; we want to talk about these issues with him,” indicating the field service manager.
This real-life anecdote illustrates the invaluable “relationship equity” that field service professionals can earn with your customers when they are trained with advanced customer relationship skills.
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Activating a Customer-Centric Strategy: Next Steps
Perhaps you have already dissected the list of revenue-generation opportunities listed above with an eye toward which ones apply most directly to your organization.
It is entirely likely that you may already be realizing an occasional sale or expanded revenue through your service team. The night-and-day difference here is that effectively activating your proactive customer-centric strategy enables you to make it repeatable and, yes, scalable by baking it in to your business model.
We have not only closely studied each of the potential revenue opportunities shared above, we have also pioneered next-level customer relationship training programs that train your key team members how to unlock each one of them — all in the interest of helping your customers achieve success.
Your customers will appreciate this. Your team will be energized with enhanced skills and a newfound sense of how important their front-line role truly is to your organization. And you will make more money.
Contact us today with any questions you have about how these customer-centric strategies can help your organization. Or reach out to schedule a free assessment with Paul Hesselschwerdt, a Global Partners Training senior partner
Discuss with Paul:
- What potential benefits do you envision from becoming customer centric?
- How important is customer centricity to your company’s success?
- What have you done so far to become customer centric?
Paul worked for decades helping companies deploy customer relationship skills that build stronger bonds and also move the needle on revenue.