Customer Managers need a set of skills, competencies and processes to do business with ( “engage” 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. In other words, we decide on the most mutually beneficial way to engage with each Customer.
Different levels of Customer engagement can range from:
- tactical – an opportunistic customer supplier relationships
- consultative – a strategically aligned and commercially viable relationship
- collaborative – a relationship with mutual performance based agreements
- strategic – a full business partnership based joint business objectives
A collaborative or strategic level of Customer engagement usually means we are working as a partner with our Customer. The decisions we make about how we will engage with our Customers, based on the levels of engagement above, should ensure that:
- 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 from us at the level ( i.e. tactical, consultative, collaborative and strategic ) that best meets their needs and achieves our objectives
Having the right Customer engagement strategy for each one of our Customers is critical to ensure alignment and understanding of our strategy, our structure, our values and behaviours and what the basis for mutual business benefit is between us. This then helps us decide the best way to work with our Customers : the degree of collaboration or engagement and the investment required to achieve the best business results for our Customer and ourself.