Key Customer managers need the right skills, competencies and processes to engage with with customers effectively. It is important to understand that these skills, competencies and processes can be applied and work at different levels of sophistication and complexity. These different levels of engagement can range from:
- tactical – opportunistic customer supplier relationships
- consultative – strategically aligned and commercially viable
- collaborative – mutual performance based agreements
- strategic – partnership based joint business objectives
Therefore our Customer engagement approach should be designed to ensure that:
- Key Customers and other stakeholders are clearly aligned with the 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 level ( i.e. tactical, consultative, collaborative or strategic ) that best meets their needs and achieves our objectives
The right Customer engagement approach is critical to ensure that all Customers are aligned to our business and understand:
- Our strategy
- Our structure
- Our values and behaviours
- Our mutual business benefit
Our Customer engagement approach will help us identify the most mutually beneficial way to engage with a Customer. It allows us to make decisions about the target degree of collaboration / engagement and determine the investment required to achieve mutually beneficial results. Our Customer engagement approach will provide us with a clear perspective on the priorities and importance of our key Customers for our business and the best approach to mutually win.
To develop a fact based Customer engagement approach the following inputs will be helpful:
Review our data and insight
- Key Customer data – e.g. size, growth, attractiveness, strategic intent etc.
- Our performance with the Customers we are assessing – e.g. size, growth, attractiveness by category etc.
- Our ability to succeed in the Customer – e.g. market share, growth, profitability, new product development rate, service levels etc.
Review our key Customer’s strategic intent and priorities
- Evaluate each Customer – e.g. attractiveness, performance and ability to win
- Prioritise Customers based on attractiveness and ability to win
- Prioritise our strategic intent
- Compare key Customers on an attractiveness/ “winnability” matrix
Define and prioritise the strategic thrusts for each key Customer
- For each key Customer combine the level of priority and strategic intent with the target degree of collaboration
- Define the investment levels based on cost serve vs. space to grow and mutual profitability
Download: Customer Engagement Framework ( This will download in a new browser window )
Confirm the engagement approach
Confirming the right engagement approach for each Customer will in turn will guide us in developing our Customer strategy and plans. Examples of common engagement approaches are:
Basic selling approach – usually servicing independent or smaller Customers with our current portfolio to achieve our sales targets
Customer business planning approach – Customer plans that are strategically aligned, commercially compelling and which will deliver business results
Joint business planning approach – Customer plans are jointly developed with our Customers for mutual category growth to profitably satisfy shoppers
Value partner approach – Customer plans are jointly developed with long term objectives and action plans for value creation initiatives / new business models / geographies / categories etc. Includes jointly agreed investment priorities and resource allocation to deliver mutual benefits.