Creating or updating the customer contact plan

As part of developing and updating our Customer Fact Book we will complete our understanding of our Customer’s organisation and all the key stakeholders in the Customer that we will need to network with, to successfully execute our business plans.

In order to understand how to network correctly with the right Customer contact strategy we will need a deep understanding of our Customer’s strategy and organisation, along with excellent connections at all levels in our Customer’s business. We build a comprehensive picture of our Customer’s structure, people and roles across all relevant positions in the following example Customer functions:

Buying – Planning and Inventory Control
Marketing – Visual display, Promotions and PR
Store Operations – In store execution and Operational Management, Loss reduction (e.g. shrinkage / waste)
Supply Chain – Order fill, Inventory, Service Levels
Other – People, Training, Finance, Technology

The output of our Customer contact strategy is a Customer contact plan. This document outlines how we will contribute towards the achievement of our strategic Customer plan ( or strategic joint Customer plan ) with the right networking, done in the right way to the right Customer contacts based on their needs and the roles the various people in the Customer team play in terms of influencing Customer decision making and implementation.

A well developed Customer contact strategy and plan ensures:

Key Customers and other stakeholders are clearly aligned with our strategy, structure, processes and ways of working
Our engagement with our Customers is effective, efficient and mutually beneficial
All our key Customers have contact at the right level that best meets their needs and achieves our objectives
Our Customer contact plan provides a clear framework to take the right approach for each Customer.

To create our Customer contact plan we need to ensure that we cover all the relevant functions in our business and in our Customer, based on the following principles:

Communication needs to happen across functions with the relevant experts
The Customer / Key Account Manager is usually responsible for orchestrating the Customer contact strategy but each functional expert is accountable for their relationship with a functional counterpart in the Customer
All contacts must be relevant and have a clear objective – we do not make contact for the sake of it, networking should happen to help us grow with our Customer.

A Customer contact plan is critical to help us network with the right Customer stakeholders based on what is important to them. Each key Customer stakeholder should be considered individually and our plan to network and communicate should meet their needs based on their level of influence and the type of influence they have.

Download: Customer Contact Plan Framework