Customers.com Handbook

A Handbook for Your Customers.com® Initiatives—Parts 1 to 4

September 16, 2010

The first section of the Customers.com Classic Handbook/Guidebook summarizes the eight critical success factors used by best practitioners over a decade ago to “make it easy for customers to do business with you” online. The second section describes the approach you should take when planning or refining a customer-centric e-business strategy.

What are the key roles you should consider in structuring your organization to be customer-centric? In Part 3, we recommend positions with P&L responsibility around customer segments. In Part 4, we offer some practical guidelines for the design and development of customer-facing applications, whether they are implemented on the Web, on Smartphones, or as interactive applications.

Customers.com Classic book available in PDF!

Part 1:

Our book Customers.com: How to Create a Profitable Business Strategy for the Internet & Beyond was first published in 1998. The original book, now called Customers.com Classic, still offers timeless insights and wonderful case histories of companies’ early Internet initiatives. Successful online ventures have one key attribute in common that is neither new nor peculiar to Internet initiative: A successful e-business initiative makes it easy for customers and prospects to do business with you. This sounds simple, but it is very difficult in practice. In Customers.com Classic, we identified eight critical factors that still characterize successful e-business initiatives.

When you tackle your own Customers.com® initiative—whether you want to make it easy for customers to do business with you via the Web or using mobile technologies—you should start by assessing where you stand on these eight fundamental core competencies. In this first section of the revised Customers.com Handbook we recap and update the eight original success factors and offer some questions you can ask yourself to make sure that you’ve covered the bases in designing and refining your customer-centric online and/or mobile strategy.

Is Your Organization Interacting with Customers Online?

Every time you interact with your customers using electronic technologies—text messaging, electronic mail, publishing applications for smart phones, letting customers help themselves via the Internet, optimizing online search, interacting with clients via social media, planning email marketing campaigns, you’re engaging in e-business. In fact, many people would say that e-business IS business. It’s how organizations operate today in a world in which almost everyone is connected via the Internet and mobile, wireless technologies and most information is available in digital form...(more)

Part 2:

Every business is now an e-business. Every organization is an e-organization. Today’s customers expect to have visibility into your company electronically. They want to be able to gather a lot of information about your products and services by searching online. They need to be able to do business electronically through self-service channels, when and how they choose. Today’s customers expect to be able to access your company’s internal business processes—e.g., what inventory is available where, or how to diagnose and repair something—from your Web site or from their own SmartPhones. Customers also expect to be able to see and to manage all the information you’ve gathered about them. They’re nonplussed if they can’t...(more)

Part 3:

What have we learned from the e-business leaders we profiled in 1998 (and from watching their successes since that time) that could help you determine what key roles you’ll need to implement a cross-channel Custom-ers.com strategy? Rather than give you a set of job descriptions you’d need for any Web project (which you can find in any book on Web development), let’s look at your company as a whole. Here is a new way to think about a governance structure and few key roles that, with the right people in them, could shift your organization from internally-driven to become a customer-adaptive organization.

They are:

1. A Customer Experience Owners’ Board at the executive level

2. Customer Segment Owners with P&L responsibility

3. Customer Communities for each customer segment

4. A Customer Experience SVP with budget and clout in a business development role...(more)

Part 4:

What Kind of Organizational Structure and Roles Do You Need for a Customers.com Company?

What We Learned from Customers.com Classic that Still Applies:

E-Business Lets You Design Quickly from the Outside In

The business leaders that we profiled in the original Customers.com in 1998 (many of whom are still in trusted leadership positions in their firms), were not C-level executives. They were directors, managers, and, in some cases, VPs. But they did have purview over a customer-critical interaction touchpoint: their company’s Web site. They drove their Web initiatives with a single-minded focus: “How can we use the Web to make it easier for our prospects and customers to do business with us?” These e-business leaders had sponsorship and air cover from high-level executives. They also had reasonable, but not large, budgets that they didn’t have to beg for. They had the resources and the purview to get things done without asking permission all the time. Most of all, they had the freedom to follow their instincts and to learn and adapt based on customers’ online interactions. They were able to design and deploy customer-facing tools and publish information that was important to customers’ ability to get things done...(more)

 

 


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