A strategic plan is key to the success of any firm; it provides a road map to the future. Without one, organizations may wander from goal to goal, never attaining one, switching course midstream, whenever a seemingly better opportunity crops up.
Strategic planning allows businesses to fully integrate different processes and departments into the firm’s operations, while enabling them to save time and money as well. The customer management process is something that can benefit from your strategic plan.
What Is Customer Management?
Customer management is a fairly sweeping term for everything related to your customers. It includes your customer service, customer outreach, and customer retention efforts. The idea of “managing” your customer relations is not a new one—but it is one that is increasingly important in today’s competitive business environment.
As companies become more aware of their need for more sophisticated means of managing their customers, they have been refining their customer management processes. However, this refining of processes can benefit enormously from strategic planning.
Why You Need Strategy
Strategy gives a business direction. Since the idea of customer management is still evolving, having a road map is important. A strategic plan can show you where customer management processes fit—and which ones will benefit your business.
Take, for example, a company that wants to improve its customer retention rate. First, the business must understand its current retention rate; it needs to implement a metric to measure that rate. Then, the company needs to seek customer feedback about why they decide to leave or stay with the firm. Once that information is in hand, it needs to be analyzed. From there, the company can decide what steps it wants to take to improve the retention rate—perhaps implementing a points-based reward system will help keep customers loyal and making repeat purchases.
Integrating the Customer Management Process
Obviously, your business is concerned with more than a single aspect, such as customer retention, in its customer management process. There are many moving pieces, including attracting new customers, reaching out to existing customers, and ensuring top-notch customer service is delivered.
Since customer management has become so central to business, however, effectively competing in today’s market means that the customer management process must be central to any business’s road map for the future. After all, if you don’t have any customers, you’re probably not going to be in business very long! The process must be wholly integrated with just about everything campaign that goes on in your business.
How Can You Achieve Integration?
Making the customer management process central to what you do is great in theory, but you have to actually walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk. That means your firm must take action to make the customer management process central to what you do.
That’s where the strategic plan can help. Customer management becomes a central focus for the company as a whole, and the strategic plan lays out the road map to improve the processes that you already have in place.
The plan can also show you where best practices can be adopted (and which ones fit). Strategic planning will also show you exactly how customer management is already integrated with your business, and what you can be doing differently to make it fit with the goals and processes of each division and department.
The Road Map to the Future
Taking again the example of the firm that wants to improve its customer retention rate, you can see that the strategic plan would help this firm achieve this goal with relative ease. The strategic plan can demonstrate what steps can be taken to both measure the customer retention rate, and then what can be done to improve the rate of retention. That can be applied to other aspects of the customer management process, meaning that it becomes more fully integrated with everything the business does.