A prospective client recently lamented that his company doesn’t have the capabilities and processes in place to ensure delivery of a consistent, high-quality customer experience across a range of channels. This got me thinking about the best ways to connect customer experience and go-to-market (GTM) strategy.
This client, in the technology space, sells through several channels, including direct sales and through a range of channel partners, such as VARs and ISVs, among others. In many firms, the decisions they make around the design and delivery of their GTM strategy—including multiple channels—can significantly inhibit their ability to improve the customer experience.
First, recognize that customer experience is the external-facing manifestation of the decisions you make (either explicitly or implicitly) around the design and delivery of your GTM strategy. Target segments, value proposition or brand, multiple channels, sales and service processes, sales structure and roles—these are all decision points you make around the design and delivery of your GTM strategy, which influences the experience of your customers.
Here are the four keys I see for linking GTM strategy to a relevant and desirable customer experience:
1. GTM design and delivery elements must be based on external market and customer understanding. We need to understand differences in “preferred” customer journey among different customer segments, and the market trends that are affecting and shaping the customer experience.
2. GTM design must focus on specific customer segments. Segmenting the market and identifying the most attractive customer opportunities provides clarity and focus for a well-aligned experience to the “right” group of customers; one size does NOT fit all—a 90% solution for the “right” group is better than a 100% solution for the “wrong” group.
3. GTM delivery must be defined by targeted and tailored solutions. A sales process that emphasizes solutions that address customer needs and provides desired benefits will yield a more compelling and relevant customer experience than a process based on selling generic product features and attributes.
4. GTM design and delivery should include the full ecosystem of interactions. The customer experience is delivered and shaped by a range of GTM partners (e.g., distributors, resellers, dealers, alliances), so GTM strategy and implementation must consider the full end-to-end customer experience.
To help you assess where you are in your ability to link GTM strategy to a relevant and desirable customer experience, consider these questions:
How well do you understand the desired end-to-end experience for different customer segments, and the channels through which customers prefer to buy? How well are you able to identify the decision criteria and success drivers for different segments across the end-to-end experience? Across different channels?
How good are you at creating and delivering differentiated customer experiences to different segments? What barriers exist, or assumptions have you made, that might be preventing you from delivering this experience?
How well are you able to measure the impact of your GTM strategy decisions on the customer experience? Are you able to see the links between what you deliver, how it’s perceived by your customers, and the impact that it’s having on them?
In your organization, how well do the people who are responsible for improving the customer experience integrate and collaborate with the people who define GTM strategy? What GTM strategy elements are assumed as “givens” by the people trying to improve customer experience? Similarly, when defining GTM strategy elements, how much consideration is given to improving the customer experience?
While this list of questions is not exhaustive, it’s a start. What other questions are you considering around your ability to link GTM strategy with customer experience improvements?
About the Author
Erik Long is a Principal at ZS Associates and is based in the firm's Chicago office. Erik has helped clients improve their marketing effectiveness in many industries, including high tech, consumer packaged goods, retail, financial services, health care, and travel and hospitality. He has helped clients with customer insights, market segmentation and targeting; brand positioning and portfolio strategy; market-driven growth strategy; customer experience management; and integrated Voice of Customer programs and tracking.