By Kay Cruse, Strategex VP, Customer Experience Strategic Practice
Global experts have predicted that business will eventually return to normal after the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020 eases. Our go-to economists, ITR Economics recently stated, “Sectors of the US economy, and the global economy, will recover in 2021. This means that activity will reach pre-recession levels (typically set in 2019).” As the global economy re-opens and rebounds, “normal” has likely changed — for you and your customers.
Meet the New Normal
Understanding the impact in which the global crisis has had on your best customers requires more than conversations with sales staff, it requires insight. In-depth interviews conducted by a professional third-party team can uncover unbiased insights into driving factors of the Customer Experience (CX).
It is important to understand how your top customers’ businesses have shifted: demand, sales, delivery, supply chain, etc. It is also important to understand how your customers used this unprecedented disruption to innovate and prepare for what’s next.
Successful customer research digs deep into Customer Experience, mapping the customers’ journeys and interactions with your company. How well will you support their rebound? Are you poised to meet new needs and expectations?
Start at the Top
This is an important time to focus on your best customers, those who provide the bulk of your revenue.
Businesses often acknowledge the 80/20 rule – 20% of your customers drive 80% of your revenue. We’ve analyzed customer data from hundreds of B2B companies and we’ve found it’s an even smaller number of accounts that drive 50% of a company’s revenue.
Focus in-depth interviews on those top accounts and focus all efforts on prioritizing these “critical few” customers at the deliberate expense of deprioritizing the “insignificant many.” Providing the greatest relief to that smaller number mandates that all customers cannot be treated equally. Fairly yes, equally no.
For the top accounts, ask a range of questions such as:
- What impact has COVID-19 had on their business specifically?
- How do top accounts envision your contribution to their return to business? Do they envision a relationship that more closely resembles pre-pandemic times?
- Are there ways your top customers would like to more closely align inventories throughout the supply chain?
- Have top customers changed their inventory strategies for components, and if so, how? What can you do to support these changes?
- Are there business changes or innovations that they’ve adopted that you should be aware of?
- How have their strategies for growth been modified and how can you provide support for those strategies?
By using in-depth interviews to assess what your best customers need most in the post-Pandemic world allows you and your organization to focus on your partnership, not just your customer/vendor relationships. Importantly, it lets your top customers know you care.
Better Than Normal
No company will be able to return to normal in a high-speed race, but instead, we encourage our clients to return with a deliberate and prioritized strategic plan. Top accounts, top products have first priority.
The pre-Pandemic strategy won’t suffice; the playbook needs to be rewritten with your best customers’ input. Use this time to better understand not only your current Customer Experience but importantly, your Best Customers’ Experience and enable that strategy to fuel your successful return to business ‘better than’ normal.
Kay Cruse is a Vice President at Strategex. She can be reached at email@example.com.