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Top 5 Obstacles to B2B Customer Centricity #4 Stalled/Delayed/Dropped Customer Programmes

The Top Five Obstacles to Customer Centricity in B2B Companies and How to Overcome them

Obstacle 4: Stalled/Delayed/Dropped Customer Programmes

This is the fourth blog in our series based on the early results of research undertaken by Peter Lavers on customer centricity.

“My company suffers from customer programmes or initiatives that either get stalled/delayed or get dropped before they fully deliver”

Stalled Programmes Graph

Only 4% of respondents ‘completely’ disagree with this statement!

Scroll down to take part in our survey.

Why is this an issue – isn’t it just a reflection of a dynamic company reacting to changing market conditions?

This may be the case in some circumstances where it reflects the company’s agility and test-and-learn ethos of “succeed quickly; fail quicker”, but sadly that’s not the reality for most of us.

For many companies it’s a major cause of staff demotivation and customer disaffection. It affects staff because it breeds internal cynicism (indeed opposition) about the next programme. It affects the customer experience because (of course!) the intended improvement doesn’t happen or is only partially delivered, often resulting in a perception of promises and commitments broken.

Why do these things happen? Here are just a few reasons, with suggestions for how to overcome the obstacles:

  1. The programme is silo’d. Pretty much all customer programmes have to have a cross-functional element at some level. Delays and breaks often occur at these points where collaboration is required. Have you ever experienced the “first I’ve heard of it” torpedo?! Please see my third blog in this series on the subject of how a systemic approach overcomes silos in the organisation.  (Silo’d Organisations)
  2. Lack of a real customer strategy. Many 3 Year Plans & strategic documents still boil down into products, markets and channels. I’m often asked what makes great Customer Strategy, and I have summarised the best that I have seen and worked on into 3 distinct ‘business questions’ with 12 key components, as illustrated. Too many programmes are trying to address customer issues in a strategic vacuum! We can help you with this!
    What are your trying to achieve
  3. Changes in senior sponsors. I saw a quote some time ago that the average tenure of a Marketing Director is less than the average strategic marketing programme timeframe! This rings true for customer programmes too. We have got to get more agile, more strategic and more systemic in the way programmes are commissioned so that individual initiatives don’t get inextricably coupled with individual sponsors

In summary

Too often I have witnessed many of the most beneficial elements of customer programmes slipping into ‘Phase 2’. My advice in such circumstances is to work on the assumption that:

Phase 2 never happens!

In other words, the customer experience is worth fighting for.

Programmes can sometimes take on a life of their own and completely lose sight of the customer, and it’s up to the people who are passionate about the customer experience to make sure that doesn’t happen. A new project management approach or tool can’t do that!

We can help you take a systemic approach to customer management that will result in better and more successful programmes, and I hope that this blog has inspired you to be advocates for the customer experience in the projects that you are involved with.

By Peter Lavers

It’s not too late to take part – if you would like to include your views then please complete our short survey to tell us what, if anything, you are pulling your hair out over when it comes to customer centricity.

It is easy to complete – just 10 statements to agree or disagree with. Please click here:  Obstacles to Customer Centricity


Read part one here: Numbers Focus

Read part two here: Multi-channel Journey

Read part three here: Silo’d Organisation


Peter Lavers

Peter Lavers is a co-founder and Director of Customer Attuned Ltd.

An expert in CRM and customer experience management and recognised as a top influencer in the subject e.g. IBM Futurist Roundtable member; Satmetrix Top 50 & SAP Top 60 Customer Experience influencers; Huffington Post Top 100 Customer Service professionals; MindTouch Top 50 Customer Success influencers; and Business Coach Top 100 Management Experts.

Peter's early career was with Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motors, where he trained as an engineer and went on to hold senior roles in commercial and logistics, market analysis, customer satisfaction, regional marketing and in his last client-side position as head of relationship marketing.