We’ve all seen this quote. When I first read it I thought: “Well, duh. That’s common sense.” But as I reflected on how many companies go about transforming their business, I noticed that there is often a lack of focus on the customer.
We are all guilty of this. After all, it is easy. We come to work every day, we do our job, and we see the world through our lens (inside-out). It takes a little work on our part to pause and think about how our customers interact with our business and how we impact them day-to-day.
You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology – not the other way around.Steve Jobs
At ATG, one thing we do is help our clients understand and improve their Quote to Cash (Q2C) lifecycle. That is, optimize the continuum that encompasses sales, contracting, fulfillment/delivery, billing, through to revenue recognition. I’ve been part of many of these programs and I have observed that often times the focus (and language) of stakeholders are of an internal view of the world and less about how the Q2C lifecycle performs from the perspective of the customer (outside-in).
Q2C Transformation: Understand, Plan, Implement
When we work with our clients to help them transform their Q2C lifecycle, we take an agile yet methodological approach to understanding, designing and transforming their Quote-to-Cash framework.
Typical activities include:
Interview various organizational owners to understand the current Q2C environment
Inventory and analyze systems including the user community, integration points, and the Q2C capabilities enabled
Review operational metrics and financials
Analyze the product/service catalog definition and maturity
Inventory pain points and observations and socialize across key stakeholders for consensus
Perform future-state visioning workshops that allow stakeholders to align toward a common vision
Develop recommendations and a strategic roadmap that outlines prioritized initiatives to address people, process, and technology improvements
So where does the customer fit in to these activities? Everywhere!
Say you’re going to improve how you provision service for your customer – that’s great, but how will it impact the steps your customer takes to change their service within the online portal? What will that user experience be like? Or, say you are migrating to a new cloud-based CPQ system. The new platform may drastically improve how sales discounts are approved, but so what? What does it do for your customer? How will it make their experience with your company better? Or worse?
This may sound like nitpicky, but I have found that by challenging stakeholders to take an “outside-in” view – from the customer’s perspective – can introduce a new dimension of understanding as well as more creative solutions.
So how do you maintain focus on your customer as you’re transforming your internal processes and systems? Here are some ideas:
In closing, to improve your Quote to Cash lifecycle you need to understand it and lay out the vision to make it better. As you do this, don’t forget the customer. Remember they are not only your lifeblood; they are the people that are interacting with your Q2C continuum and will feel the changes you are making.