Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stakeholder Experience on a Shoestring

Ok, you are a frontier market company or a development organization trying to build stakeholder experience into your organization's DNA, but you don't have funds to allocate to it. Does this mean: no cash, no program? Of course not. Bob Hayz wrote a post on how startups can be customer experience focused on no budget, and we can talk about how his approach can be applied anywhere.

1.       Start with Executives: Depending on your organization, identify who is at the top of it, and make sure this program is led top down. Building a strong stakeholder experience requires that your whole organization focuses on the people you serve. If you are a new organization, this may actually be easier, since you can build it into company culture from the beginning. If you are managing a development project you can build it into your management structure when you design it. Most importantly though, the leaders have to drive the change.

2.  Collect customer feedback: You’d be amazed what you can do with Survey Monkey. More importantly though, you have to listen to, and have an ongoing conversation with your stakeholders. This can be done with surveys, customer interviews, or even social media conversations, but you need an ongoing pulse that tells you of what the stakeholders think of your actions. For example, if you are running a small business accelerator program, you could create a panel of participants who can give regular feedback on satisfaction and engagement, and what needs to be improved.

Silos are for grain, not for ideas
3. Share the feedback results companywide: every organization has issues with silos. Unless you are a Soviet splinter cell targeted by James Bond, your overall organization suffers by operating this way. When a stakeholder obsessed organization hears feedback that can benefit other functional areas in the organization, communicating this facilitates experience design over time.  A great Base of the Pyramid example of this Unilever’s Shakti program. Ladies in small Indian villages would get daily feedback from their customers, which they would report to Unilever. The more the entire organization knew what their customers were thinking and how they were using their products, the more they could better understand their customers, and adjust their business model to fulfill their needs.

4.  Use the feedback to improve the stakeholder experience over time: Once your organization understands how the activities of one functional area impact the stakeholder in a different part of the lifecycle, you can begin to design a comprehensive approach that fulfills the needs of your stakeholders in a more complete way.

Many companies trying to drive customer experience initiatives start with a listening program, and try to integrate customer feedback into their metrics. But Customer Experience moves way beyond simple monitoring and evaluation activities. It integrates with a larger business strategy or project design. The ultimate goal is to be able to not only respond to your stakeholders’ needs, but also predict them, and design accordingly. You may not have a large market research budget to do this, but there are many ways it can be done on a shoestring. And we usually have at least one shoe.

So here is a question, how do you currently allocate funds to make sure you are correctly predicting your stakeholder needs?

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