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22/10/2014

Outside-In Customer Experience Is The Best Offensive Strategy - Forbes

http://onforb.es/ZFGxbq
Christine Crandell Contributor

I write about B2B innovation in customer experience and engagement.


Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

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10/21/2014 @ 11:10PM 67 view s

Outside-In Customer
Experience Is The Best
Offensive Strategy
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B2B companies are realizing that the real rockbed of building enduring
customer relationships lies in the perception customers hold of value. Value is
increasingly not in the product but in the services paid and free that
sellers provide. While still a controversial concept, this realization is
prompting many B2B companies to revisit their customer journey maps to
ensure they value, as defined by their customers, is delivered at every step.
Yet, value is in the eye of the beholder. As customers define what value is and
is not, theyll also admit there is no one definition. The definition changes
along the relationship lifecycle. Value in the pre-purchase stage helps the
buyer make informed decisions that achieve their target outcomes. Postpurchase, when the product has been used for a while, value centers on
information, access experts and customers, and resources that are not
commonly available to the public and help the customer address broader
business issues. This shifting definition of value shouldnt be lost on anybody
looking to become customer-aligned.
While many companies view customer-alignment as a necessary change
forced upon them, its actually an opportunity to raise the bar in their
markets, says Jaime Anderson, Global Vice President of Customer
Engagement & Commerce, SAP. Value delivery along with process alignment
and culture are key parts of operationalizing the customer-alignment
transformation. Value is becoming the new credit/debit of the customer
trust bank, stresses Anderson.
A companys ability to deliver customer-defined value is closely tied to its
company culture; another topic that keeps coming up in the customer
experience discussion. It comes down to who is responsible for turning
customer understanding into action? Its not technology, management or
strategy; its your employees. Weve all heard the saying happy employees
lead to happy customers.
www.forbes.com/sites/christinecrandell/2014/10/21/outside-in-customer-experience-is-the-best-offensive-strategy/print/

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22/10/2014

Outside-In Customer Experience Is The Best Offensive Strategy - Forbes

Why is a healthy workplace key to customer loyalty?


For employees to own the customer relationship they need to understand how
they fit into the whole engagement expectation equation. Dont assume they
will figure it out; they lack the perspective and information to do that.
Leaders need to help all employees, not just those on the front-line, connect
the dots between their jobs and how their performance is measured with
customer journey steps and customer expectations.
If employees feel they are valued, enabled and set up for success, they will
routinely go the extra mile to help customers realize value, achieve their
desired outcome and have the experience they want. Employee enablement is
a key success factor in customer-alignment yet that depends wholly on the
organizations culture.
According to Ken Klein, CEO of Tintri, a smart storage technology provider,
there has to be congruency between how you treat your employees and how
you treat customers. Employees should be treated like customers. If their
customers are successful, Tintri believes it will be successful.
It goes beyond posters, free gourmet lunches and cheerleader company
meetings, for Klein it means modeling the behavior you want employees to
emulate. Its not in what you say but how your actions demonstrate your
values, shares Klein. It means explaining to employees about how they act
directly impacts customer and the companys success.
Klein walks the talk in ways that few CEO are brave enough to. Aside from an
astonishing level of transparency about the business with customers and
employees, management enforces a No Jerk Policy. Repeated violations of
the following ten rules and youre out the door no matter how much of
wunderkind you are:
1. Intimidation
2. Bullying
3. Assigning Blame
4. Taking Undeserved Credit
5. Overly Negative
6. Subordinating Company Interests to Individual, Group, Function, etc.
7. Withholding Critical Information for Political Reasons
8. Say No Instead of How Can I Help?
9. Being Hypocritical
10. Overly Complicating Things That Inhibit Progress

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22/10/2014

Outside-In Customer Experience Is The Best Offensive Strategy - Forbes

The policy exists for good reason because customers have direct access to
anyone in the organization and the two groups are frequently brought together
in a variety of forums.
Customer-centricity is baked into Tintris DNA. Thats a good thing because
there is a growing movement to humanize B2B interactions. People have
relationships with people, not with logos, corporate structures, and brands.
Personal connections and relationships are how value expectations are
understood and delivered.
I had dinner in Chicago last night with 14 CMOs after a speaking event. We
talked about our families, dogs, past employers, hobbies, etc. we were
looking for common interests. No one wore their logos on their foreheads and
at the end of dinner everyone knew each others name and who could help with
what but each person was hard pressed to cite who their dinner mates worked
for.
Tintri facilitates deep personal customer connections by rotating people
through various roles in the company. Engineers rotate through the help desk
and field sales, marketers rotate through various marketing and sales
functions. This institutionalizes customer alignment across the organization
as it strengthens the companys agility and resilience. Smart agile companies
respond faster and more effectively to market changes. Their nimbleness
comes, in part, from consciously designed simplified customer touch points.
Anderson believes that designing processes from the outside-in, from the
customers perspective, not only simplifies the customers journey but helps
brands stay nimble.
Tintri didnt set out with a grand plan to implement employee engagement as
part of its growth strategy. They set out to build a successful company by
aligning it outward around the customer; it seemed like the logical thing to
do. The results are impressive 140 percent year/year growth and a four
percent attrition rate.
Klein will tell you that culture is paramount to success. There is no Chief
Customer Officer or Chief Culture Officer in the company; these
responsibilities are owned by the employees. Culture values apply to everyone
from Board of Directors down the organization and out to customers. There is
an expectation of authenticity, transparency and values guided decisionmaking in every interaction.
The personal relationship between employees and customers breaks down the
fear that plagues most organizations that deeply involving the customer in
their business equates to giving up control. Employee engagement is the
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22/10/2014

Outside-In Customer Experience Is The Best Offensive Strategy - Forbes

most important thing to company success, shares Anderson. Employees


need to be empowered to simplify and make decisions on the spot that help
customers achieve their goals.
Tintri admits it doesnt have it all figured out and it hasnt gone through tough
economic times to test its mettle but management believes the depth and
value-focus of its employee-customer relationships is a sustainable
competitive differentiator as well the fuel of future growth. It probably is as
TinTri is unknowingly on the forefront of new thinking in how to design and
lead organizations.
Anderson sums it up in five key words, Outside-in is an offensive play.
Christine Crandell is the author of Sellers Compass and a recognized
thought leader and President of New Business Strategies, a customer
experience strategy consulting firm. www.sellerscompass.com
This article is available online at: http://onforb.es/ZFGxbq

2014 Forbes.com LLC All Rights Reserved

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