Read each part of our five-part series:
Ways of working are in a constant state of flux, and the upheaval of the pandemic has only accelerated the pace and concentration of change. In today’s business landscape, how can organisations not just keep up, but stay ahead of the curve and future-proof themselves? The answer is simple: data. As a Transformation Director and business advisor with over 20 years of experience in large scale back office transformation, Michael Hyltoft is an expert in using data and AI to drive and execute change. He shares his unique insights and advice in using data to add value in this five-part series.
Having taken a look at how your organisation functions internally – from collaborative practices and meetings, to autonomy in the workplace and working hours – let’s take a step back and look outside the company for the final instalment of the ‘Driving change with data’ series. How much time does your organisation spend with its customer base?
Customer relationships are crucial to the success of any business. Building strong connections with them not only leads to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty, but also provides valuable opportunities for growth and development. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of their needs, preferences and pain points – insights which will allow you to tailor your products or services to improve the overall customer experience. Regular interactions with customers can also lead to the identification of new opportunities for product or service development, helping drive the growth of your business.
Many consider these benefits to be driven by your frontline functions like sales, but other departments have a role to play – product development, logistics, and everything in between.
To start gathering data on who spends time with customers and for how long, take a look at domain names for emails and meetings – that should give you an indication of the teams involved. You could also track interactions with external partners and/or suppliers in this manner, if that would be useful information for your organisation. Below is a simple example of what the data might look like.
Once you have the information, you can get a sense of how much your teams spend with customers – and evaluate it accordingly. How much is appropriate and proportional will largely depend on your industry and the team in question, but it’s worth digging in. Where are the teams spending a considerable amount of their time, if not with customers? For example, is a lot of time devoted to communication between sales and finance? This could indicate issues with billing and/or agreeing commercial terms. Or perhaps your working culture or day-to-day processes need to be looked at to see how interaction time could be optimised.
It is also imperative to see how the company handles customer communication more generally. Is communication very siloed between team members and the customer, or does everybody seem to attend every single meeting and get copied on every email? There isn’t a right or wrong level, just what’s right for your type of customer and the product/service you’re selling. Nevertheless, you may find that there is a difference between what your customers require/respond to, and what your teams provide. By evaluating the data, you may get new and exciting insights to pursue.
Another way to approach the information is to take a look at the role individuals play in having successful interactions and success with your customer base. You could, for example, look into whether there’s a difference between the behaviours of your highest performing and more average salespeople. Meeting data can be fairly insightful here.
One US company discovered, for example, that their top salespeople held the same number of meetings as others in their team, but they concentrated them at different times, with the majority of meetings taking place at the start of the quarter, and very few towards the end. The takeaway? Those top performers spent the beginning of the quarter figuring out which deals to close, and then they focused on closing them. Simple, but effective.
Learning from the positive behaviours of your team is always a good idea, but great leadership comes from the top. With that in mind, are your managers providing enough support to your customer-facing teams? You can approach this from two main angles:
This information can help you ascertain how much (or how little) training or coaching your customer-facing team members might need. This will depend on the specifics of your organisation, as well as how long the individuals have been in their roles. You can benchmark these measurements against the amount of time your top performers spend in one-on-ones and attending meetings with their manager to help you to gauge the right levels for success. Our article, ‘What is the right amount of time to spend with your manager’, explores this in more detail.
Furthermore, businesses can apply a similar approach to their interactions with other external partners, for example, suppliers (during RFP process), external agencies like tax authorities and shareholders, specific companies during for example M&A activities or even integration between two companies, using the data to drive positive behaviours there as well.
Data is your friend. Gather as much as you can and use it to add serious value to your organisation. You’ll get insights, improve customer and employee satisfaction and loyalty, change working practices and enhance company culture, drive business growth and more. So, take the time, assemble a team, and get ready to watch your business thrive.
For more insights and guidance into driving organisational change and building capabilities, please reach out to the BIE Transformation Team.