Trends in the Demand Chain

Increased opportunities for customer interaction create new operational challenges for Sales, Marketing and Service  the Demand Chain. Organizations aiming for the same efficiency they previously achieved in the supply chain must look beyond technology...


As we have noted, the insight required to succeed in this demanding environment depends on data; so, too, does customer-centric process definition and redesign. With a multiplicity of customer types and behaviors, today's organizations are beginning to develop key customer personas and relationship scenarios to support revenue goals and cost-reduction targets, and to prioritize the tasks that will most effectively place the customer at the center of the business. Scenario-driven processes also simplify decisions on whether and when to invest in the technologies underlying CRM.

Building a customer-focused demand chain is not rapidly achievable any more than it is a single, static goal or a technology solution. It is a sea change that requires CEO sponsorship, since the CEO is — or should be — a company's chief strategist, and winning customer loyalty is, above all, a strategic exercise. It requires a multi-year program to inculcate a customer-centric attitude throughout the organization, supported not only by processes but also by organizational structure and employee rewards.

Having said all that, a synchronized demand chain is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Data management and customer insight, channel and process synchronization, and integration of the underlying technologies can be broken down into modular, achievable tasks. For example:

  • A CRM Readiness Assessment, CRM Results Audit, or a CRM Road Map project to identify areas of potential improvement that will provide the best return

  • A Sales and General Administration cost-reduction program to identify cross-organization and cross-channel synergies

  • A data integrity project as a first step toward creating and maintaining an enterprise customer database

  • A sales process assessment to identify new opportunities to communicate with customers

  • A customer experience audit of all touch points to assess opportunities in employee automation, collaboration automation, and self-service automation

  • Marketing process automation to manage, measure and justify campaigns

These and other opportunities can be identified and implemented within an overall program of customer strategy and CRM implementation that is guided by consistent principles:

  • Identify the customer, the customer's needs and the preferred way to satisfy those needs

  • Understand the user, the user's needs and the user's operational context

  • Identify enterprise goals and a plan to achieve them that integrates customer and user goals and behavior

    These principles move us away from an easy assumption that technology alone can deliver better sales revenue, marketing effectiveness and customer service. Technology investments are more likely to pay off if enterprises first align their people and their processes with customer needs through a series of incremental demand chain investments, justifying and prioritizing each increment by improved efficiency and higher customer profitability.

    About the Author: Stan Martin is CEO of Adroit Consulting (www.adroitconsulting.com). Prior Adroit Consulting, Stan was president and COO of InstallShield Software Corp. Before InstallShield, he was COO of Whittman-Hart Inc. Stan's early career included senior management positions at Ernst & Young, LLP; Seimens-Nixdorf AG and IBM.

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