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Well it has to be done. What I am going to attempt to offer is a few guidelines posed as questions that should help you to be clear about how well your customer strategy is working right now.

You need to start of course by knowing what your customer strategy was – did you aspire to achieve some level of excellence/ to be like a company who does it really well/ to automate everything/ to use feedback to shape the future/ increase market share/grow the market? Did you ever clearly articulate a customer strategy? If you did or if you didn’t, don’t beat yourself up just get cracking.

At the core of this is a fundamental pair of questions: What do customers say you do and what would customers like you to do? If you can get the answer to the second half of this question (and you can if you ask them), then you will get a glimpse of what could prove very valuable to your proposition in the future.

Step 1: Reset
Review your current processes, walk through the journey that your customers walk through every time they do business with you, checking the experience in every channel. What do you think – could it be better, should it be better? Make your customer experience a really good one.

Understand exactly who your customer is – look at your data, look at what you sell most of, who buys it and how often? Know who you are dealing with.

Step 2: Focus
Having walked through it all are you operationally fit for growth? Does it all work well, efficiently and effectively? Review the complaints you have received to get an insight into what you need to fix. Is it process/ price/ behaviour? Don’t be an ostrich.

Step 3: Build
How will you keep hold of your existing customers and ideally get them to spend more? Who is looking after them for you? What new products are they crying out for that you could offer through development or partnering or acquisition. (Is it worth it?) Do you actually know the commercial potential out there? The size of the market, activity of your competitors etc. Don’t leave money on the table.

Step 4 Grow
Do your potential customers know who you are? Do your existing customers know what else you offer? Look at PR, social media, advertising. Who will write and own your sales plan? How will you be able to take up new opportunities? Have you got the skills you need, or do you need to train or recruit?

A few simple words, a few simple ideas but an enormous amount of work. Are you up for the challenge? What do you need to fix? Processes, people, products, customers, strategy. I will leave that one with you.

Penny Whitelock FinstLM