Is the Customer Your #1 Stakeholder?
“Coming together is the Beginning, Keeping together is Progress, Working together is Success” – Henry Ford
There is a need to create a positive touch point on every interaction with a customer. This is not as simple as it sounds, for in the ever expanding technology of today the majority of interactions with customers tend to be on-line or remote connections. We are getting fewer and fewer opportunities to have a positive interaction, which means the opportunities that we have, must be positive and fulfilling. How can we possibly ensure this is going to happen?
The key to this question is held by the Stakeholders in our business! At this stage I need to point out a confusion that often arises in the various workshop sessions that I conduct.
“What is the difference between a Stakeholder and a Shareholder?”
It is not that the questioner doesn’t know it, more that they need to differentiate between the two. It is quite understandable how the two can be confused when you read the simple definitions.
• Stakeholder – An individual, group or organisation that is affected by the activity of the business
• Shareholder – An individual, group, or organisation that owns one or more shares in a business
The names are so similar and their roles are not too dissimilar in that they have a keen interest in how the business performance will affect them. For us the Stakeholder is the more important player and the group that can provide us with the guidelines towards helping our business to be more effective and successful.
Who are the actual stakeholders and why should we be concerned about them? Depending on the situation and the particular concerns of a business the Stakeholders may vary, but essentially they are drawn from the 8 groups in the graphic – “Stakeholders in the Business”
We have addressed who they are, now why should they be a consideration for us in the running of the business. How is this group of people going to ensure that we address the needs of our customers and ensure we keep our existing customers happy and attract and retain new customers? In the first instance we need to establish the subject that our customers are concerned about. We might pick on an example from the banking world – Our Purpose Statement could be “To determine customer needs relative to Remote Banking.”
We determine these needs by asking questions, not just any questions but a specific structured set of questions that is going to lead us to what our customers really want and need. There are a number of avenues that we can pursue in compiling the information required.
For the benefit of this exercise we are going to adopt an Analytical Approach which means we are going to list all the Key Stakeholders and then Brainstorm each of the 4 listed requirements against each individual Stakeholder. This is quite an undertaking and requires a good amount of preparation, at the same time ensuring you have the key stakeholders identified and willing to provide the information.
We might start off the exercise by questioning the first of the Stakeholders. We may select an employee and ask the question relative to the 1st quadrant “Requirements to fulfil”. The question might be phrased as;
“As an employee of ABC Bank what main and secondary results do you want to achieve with the Remote banking offer to customers?”
This question would be asked of the employee representative a number of times until you are satisfied the employees have contributed as much as they are able, also including any specific details around these requirements.
This questioning technique would be repeated for each of the 4 quadrants and for each of the agreed Stakeholders. As I indicated earlier it is a comprehensive exercise and not something to be taken lightly. The exercise is requesting valuable time from the participants and it is important that their inputs are taken seriously. The inputs will form a valuable part in the overall evaluation of the customer needs.
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