Is Your Business in Need of a Front-End Alignment?
Five ways to coordinate your customer-centric teams for greater efficiency and improved outcomes.
The wonder of an automobile assembly line is in its consistency. While sections of the car move from station to station, precisely fitted parts are snapped into place as the final product nears completion. It’s a tight, masterful choreography that maximizes efficiencies — both in speed of production and quality of output.
A similar concept holds true with the customer-facing teams in your business. These are functions such as sales, marketing, product development, customer service, technical support and even accounting (invoicing). To maximize efficiencies, you must align their production as they work toward a mutual end goal. In this case, it’s revenue growth.
Alignment Is Key to Growth
Companies that underestimate the value of aligning customer-facing teams in today’s competitive global market do so at their own risk. By one measure, organizations with tightly aligned customer-facing teams have 36 percent higher rates of customer retention and 38 percent higher sales-win rates than those with non-aligned teams1. A study by the Aberdeen Group shows that companies with strong alignment achieve a 20 percent annual growth rate2.
By contrast, companies with poorly aligned teams report an average of 4 percent revenue decline according to Aberdeen3.
But getting your customer-facing teams aligned is often easier said than done. That’s because they have different objectives and points of view. Marketing, for instance, wants to create strong branding and generate quality leads. Sales is looking for the quick score. Customer service, meanwhile, typically does not differentiate service levels among customer types. Product service teams just want to fix a problem as soon as possible.
Identifying when customer-facing teams are out of alignment is also difficult. There are several indicators to watch for:
- Faltering revenue growthFaltering revenue growth
- Differing opinions about target customers and customer value to the organization
- Failing to proportionately target customers
- Disconnection between strategy and execution
- Increased customer attrition
- Critical gaps in the customer experience (negative customer feedback/poor NPS scores)
Ideally, you would build your customer-facing teams from the ground up with each other’s interests in mind. For example, the marketing team would nurture potential quality leads with its campaigns and then pass them on to the sales side. Sales, in turn, would convert those leads into customers.
But starting from scratch is unrealistic. So what do you do to improve alignment among all entities?
Roaring Into Full Production
Gathering your customer-facing teams and waving sparkling statistics about the value of alignment won’t magically bring them into harmony. To get the assembly line moving and maximize efficiencies and outcomes, you must obtain buy-in from all entities on a customer-centric approach. Here are five ways to do that:
- Design Your Model. Develop, or build upon, a customer-centric strategy that can work for all parties. As part of this stage, you’ll want to identify customer targets and make sure resources and investments are aligned. Three key areas to look at are: your business model, organization, value proposition and the customer journey.
- Assemble the Parts. Develop the customer insights that support effective and efficient sales, marketing, service and product development performance. Ask: Do managers agree about who the target customers are, where and how to find and attract them to the company, and what core processes support them? Do all customer-facing teams understand customer demographics, priorities, purchasing decisions?
- Drive It off the Line. Deliver value to the customer that meets or exceeds their needs and priorities. Operate your customer-facing processes with efficiency and effectiveness to drive customer acquisition, retention and loyalty. Are your core customer processes best in class? Are there bottlenecks in the processes? How can they be removed?
- Move Into the Showroom. Improve the customer experience across all customer touchpoints. Does the customer have a positive experience from the moment he or she engages with the company — through purchase, service and support? The more positive the experience, the higher the likelihood that the customer will return to purchase again and become loyal to the company.
- Customer Takes Delivery. Improve the customer decision-making throughout the organization. That means that all functions that serve the customer work together, share objectives and goals and are incentivized and motivated in a coordinated manner.
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Commitment to the End Goal
Every company will tell us that it follows the old adage of “customer is king.” But to truly commit to that ethos, a company must understand how the customer experience works unique to its own operations and then develop ways it can stand apart from competitors. By doing so, the company can then deliver a corporate strategy that functions on all cylinders, build critical differentiated capabilities and realize sustainable revenue growth.
1: Bewsher, Doug. “The Secret to Account-Based Marketing Success.” MarketingProfs, MarketingProfs, 20 Jan. 2016.
2: Murphy, Anne. “10 Stats on the Business Impact of Marketing and Sales Alignment.” Kapost Content Marketing Blog, Kapost Marketing, 30 Aug. 2017.