7 customer centric behaviours for a digital world

by Marty Nicholas

by Sally-Anne Lyster

Driving an effective change agenda and creating a fully-formed go-to market model – particularly in a digital and fast-moving world – can be challenging. To survive and thrive against the backdrop of today’s changing customer dynamics, organisations need a transformation strategy that ensures they can effectively shift frontline mindsets and build new capability well. This strategy needs to empower the organisation to evolve nimbly by enabling staff to safely stretch themselves and adapt their approach to new customer dynamics. How can you invest in your frontline teams to meet the modern consumer’s needs?

While holistic transformation touches all aspects of a business, the majority of attention and effort is typically spent re-engineering go to market channels, systems, processes and operating models. However, to realise transformation benefit, a dedicated and unwavering focus needs to be directed to better enable leaders and teams to execute in new and different ways.
 
The challenge of serving digitally-empowered customers
 
People in the frontline need the capability to demonstrate value and prowess to better meet customer expectations across a range of digital channels. However, the reality is that most staff lack key competencies to properly harness the benefits of these emerging digital tools and technologies and are, as a result, unprepared to meet the elevated expectations of today’s more sophisticated customers.
 
This means that the key to the success of any large-scale change lies in knowing what the frontline of the future will look like and investing in building the appropriate skills. The right development at the frontline will ensure that marketing, sales and service remain relevant and impactful in supporting the customer and buyers journey.
 
The ‘7’ Customer-Centric Behaviours
 
In our work helping organisations transform their people to better support digital go-to-market models, Blackdot has identified 7 key customer centric behaviours that matter most in equipping staff to operate in a digital, customer-led environment.
7-Behaviours-Diagram.jpgHere we expand on these 7 key areas where organisations can focus energy to build capability in their people. Fostering and embedding these behaviours will require strong change leadership and an unwavering customer-focused mindset.
 
1. Build customer & buyer understanding

As systems become increasingly sophisticated to support customer segmentation, organisations can increase focus on truly understanding the buyer journey and individual personas, adding value in both personalising the offering and in better matching the frontline approach to the opportunity. Frontline staff need the skills to understand the intricacies of the various customer segments that they serve, the potential opportunity and decision drivers for each segment and being able to flex their approach accordingly. Having the ability to know their customers intimately and add value during a pivotal sales or service moment enhances loyalty and drives long-term value.
 
2. Improve data & digital literacy

With access to an unprecedented amount of data and new technologies, it’s now possible to track not only a customer’s purchase history, but how their pre-sales activity indicates interest levels and what their spending preferences reveal. Understanding a customer’s digital exhaust can help staff make the right decisions about how to best support that individual’s progression throughout the buyer journey. This means a different way of working at the frontline level, where the ability to interpret and assess data analytics is more important than ever.
 
Organisations will also need to turn insight into action by proposing relevant needs-based solutions. This shift makes data quality extremely important and therefore needs to be managed vigilantly. All these areas require new analytical skills that should be specifically identified and developed to maximise the technology investment.
 
3. Shift from sequential working to dynamic prioritisation

Gone are the days where frontline teams work through a list of actions sequentially – we now have intelligence to assist with prioritising tasks to where value lies. Frontline staff will need to be taught how to prioritise work types and activities based on characteristics such as the customer’s overall service experience, likely buying behaviour, etc. Agility will be required in how staff dedicate their focus and adapt their plans to changing buyer dynamics, all which requires new skills, mindset shifts and a flexible way of working.
 
4. Enable customer journey progression

As organisations transform to enable customers to transact through their channel of choice, so too does the complexity of guiding customers through key sales and service events. The frontline of the future needs to understand the various customer journeys and potential breakpoints. They need to be proactive in providing advice and following up if things go wrong. In short, they need to be able to act as a concierge to their individual customers through the increasingly complex choices they face. Those who do this well will be rewarded with customer advocacy.
 
5. Optimise the customer experience

To exceed expectations in an increasingly competitive customer landscape complicated by omni-channel activity and globalisation, frontline employees need to be equipped with more than just basic sales and service interpersonal skills. The frontline should be able to respond to key moments of truth in the customer journey, knowing when to over-invest in the interaction while remaining proactive, anticipating issues in advance and assisting customers with navigating through unknown and new processes. They need to be skilled in identifying crucial moments to offer expertise and value-added insight as relevant to their customer segment.

6. Enable cross-functional collaboration

Organisations based around the traditional silos of product, marketing, sales and service will have a difficult time offering the customer a seamless experience or getting a holistic customer view. Enterprises with a single view of the customer however will fulfil the entirety of a customer’s needs to achieve better product penetration rather than entering into a product-led transactional sale.
 
Instead of sharing tactical information in costly forums, organisations can elevate out of these time-intensive operating rhythms and into more strategic discussions on value creation and customer opportunity. This way of working requires a different skillset and necessitates drawing on in-house experts in specific areas such as cross-functional planning, nourishing internal networks and dynamically forming client propositions.
 
7. Encourage values-based decision making

The skill to navigate complex scenarios using an ethical compass is becoming essential in many industries as traditional sales cultures shift to supporting the customer journey in an ethical manner while meeting a greater range of buyer needs. Regulation and internal compliance cannot cover every situation that frontline staff may need to navigate. Having a process for making sound decisions that are in customer interests while realising the corporate vision is an essential skill for both leaders and customer-facing teams.

How can you build these behaviours in your organisation?

Leading organisations embed these capabilities in their people by creating packages of people, process and technology change as well as an immersive blended learning environment that puts the learner in situations which challenge them to think differently and apply new skills in a safe environment.

Download our Transforming Mindsets & Capabilities whitepaper to learn about the 3 key learning approaches which should be combined for greatest impact.