Advancing your organization to become customer centric requires the right resources, skills, teams, processes, and technologies. As you prepare for this undertaking, you will need to determine if you have the necessary in-house skills for successful planning, development, and deployment of your organization’s customer-centric transformation.
In a recent study, “The Case for Change: Exposing the Myths of Customer-Centric Transformation”, Margie Chiu, SVP, Customer Strategy, Merkle, dispels Myth #6: “We’re a smart group, we can do this ourselves.” While it may sound feasible or even easy for in-house teams to figure it out on their own, it is likely that they don’t have expertise, specialized skills, or bandwidth to deliver an enterprise-wide customer-centric transformation.
When motivating your organization to become more customer centric, consider a few questions you should ask to determine if your team has what’s needed to transform on its own and how external resources or consultants may help:
Do we need an outside opinion?
Often times, in-house marketing teams may fall into routines and are too close to the problems that may cause them to miss obvious answers or solutions. This may be challenging for organizations looking to update their marketing approach. Changes in technologies are extremely difficult to execute for individuals that are too mired in tradition to drive transformation. External resources can bring skillful evaluation and fresh points of view that may even validate ideas that have already been created within the organization.
Do we have the expertise and skills?
In order to deliver broad-scale transformation initiatives, chances are that the technological expertise and specialized skills that are required are not readily available in-house. External resources that are highly skilled in the necessary competencies can help jumpstart an organization’s know-how and knowledge in a specific area.
Do we have the bandwidth and resources to do this on our own?It is likely that in-house marketing teams are already consumed with a multitude of programs and operations. Transformation initiatives will require additional lift and prioritization of core responsibilities. External resources can focus on the planning, development, and deployment of change efforts, so that in-house teams can prioritize and maintain consistent business initiatives. External resources may also fill gaps in skills and expertise where it may not make sense to hire a full-time employee.
Do we need help aligning the organization?
Effective transformations span and rely on various functions, channels, and products within the organization. Collaboration from across the organization is essential, and it is possible to encounter resistance or even conflict when enlisting cross-channel teams and lines of business. An external party provides a neutral ground and unbiased perspective to help align the organization on actions towards customer centricity.
How will we know if our strategy meets industry standards?
Organizations will need to know how their customer-centric strategy compares to other organizations and what kinds of results they should expect. External consultants often work with a variety of organizations and can shed light on what’s been effective. It is likely that they have worked through similar problems with someone else and provide perspective on what they’ve seen work or what hasn’t been effective before. This outside lens can bring new and innovative ideas or possible challenges that in-house teams may not have been able to see on their own.
How do we find the right help?
After deciding on whether or not to hire external resources or consultants, there are several factors to considering which one is the best fit. Here are a few things that can help you in your search:
- Conduct research – Online research and review of trusted industry and analyst reports (e.g. Forrester) can help you build a list of potential partners.
- Ask for recommendations – Reach out to your networks and seek recommendations from industry peers and make sure that potential partners have experience with organizations like yours.
- Check for breadth of capabilities –Ensure that your partners can provide access to various capabilities to help you navigate through the various stages of transformation.
- Look for innovation – Consider partners that have demonstrated the ability to be creative and help build outside of the box solutions.
- Compare against others – Measure your potential partners against each other, not only on price, but on which can provide the most experience and value.
- Confirm compatibility – Make certain that any potential partners really care about your organization and complement your team, since you will be spending a lot of time collaborating with them.
What’s our role when we have outside help?
External resources or consultants won’t lead your organization’s customer-centricity transformation without your input, vision, and support. There are a few things you can do to drive the transformation from within:
- Provide inputs –Make sure that you contribute insights from your internal and front-line purview and ensure that all affected business considerations are properly addressed.
- Facilitate amongst the organization – Use your position to help the team navigate internal politics and gather necessary inputs from cross-channel teams and lines of business.
- Detect synergies within the organization –Opportunities may exist to bolster current initiatives or help other areas within your organization free up or prioritize workload.
- Enlist sponsors – Customer centricity is an enterprise-wide mindset and should be adopted across the organization. Identify sponsors that will champion and help socialize the transformation within your organization.
External resources and consultants can provide the tools, guidance, and know-how to maneuver through the stages of a successful enterprise customer-centric transformation. Whether you decide your team can accomplish this on its own, or if you will seek the help of a trusted partner, it is important that you’ve assembled the best possible resources and competencies to put your marketing organization in the position of leading a customer-centric approach. Is your organization ready for customer centricity? Take our customer centricity assessment to see how you match up against the industry and to identify strengths and weaknesses in your transformation process.