Capabilities supporting customer value

The capabilities the customer needs to do business with us and which we provide in line with our view of customer value can be mapped against the Customer Activity Cycle.

The amount of effort expended on obtaining conversions is dependent on the value of a specific customer type – or even an individual (large) customer – to your business.

Just how badly do you want to “get into bed” with a particular customer – or a particular type of customer?

The answer to that question depends on your particular business, the type of customer in question and the current emphasis of your eBusiness strategy, and is outside the scope of this general discussion.

Your willingness to support the customer – and the features and functionality you might implement to provide that support – is proportional to the importance of the customer, measured in whatever metric is appropriate.

The available options are broadly as follows, listed in order of increasing commitment (and investment):

  • Retrieve – basically publishing information so that the user can find and retrieve it himself
  • Push – pro-actively delivering information to the customer, perhaps as a newsletter or as an SMS text for urgent information.
  • Interact – providing tools, with which the customer can interact to answer specific questions. Examples might include catalogues, design and selection tools etc.
  • Integrate – provide infomation in formats that the customer can integrate into his processes, such as CAD drawings, Bills of Materials, order information etc.
  • Collaborate – participating in and contributing to customer activities, such as product design, maintenance planning etc.

and – although probably no customer would think to ask for it – we must provide the ability to Discover infomation.

The best design aids and technical data sheets in the world are of absolutely no value if the intended audience can not find them or is not even aware of their existance!

Capabilities Mapping

These capabilities – which the customer needs to be better able to do business with us and which we will provide in line with our view of customer value – can also be mapped against the Customer Activity Cycle:

Capabilties support the customers' Awareness

Combining the capabilities with the representations of repetitive Awareness Cycles already developed, we can create a matrix of information and delivery mechanisms, which can be documented separately for each customer type, for each phase of the relevant Activity Cycle and for the specifics of individual strategicly important customers. The following diagram illustrates the principle:

Capabilities give every customer what she needs.

This simple diagram forms the basis for calculating the financial return on our B2B endeavours, as we will see in the discussion of Cash.

Capabilities: Keep it Simple

The simplicity of this approach – and its inherent value – was brought home to me in the middle of a customer presentation. An extrenal consultant from one of the “Big 4” was sitting at the back of the room (I won’t say which of the “Big 4” he worked for, to protect the innocent :-). As I was explaining how I wanted to work with CAC diagrams and how to add capabilities and benefits to the basic picture, he suddenly jumped up and said “This is fantastic – it’s so simple”. He went on to say that his company uses vast Excel spreadsheets to gather the same information, but that “they’re so complicated that no one understands how to use them”