Thinking about customers as assets is my first customer experience competency. The idea of ‘customers as assets’ moves you towards a simple, non-refutable measure of if you did, or did not, earn the right to customer-driven growth. It’s an unfortunate reality that many companies, despite the rise of CCO and CX work, still are not entirely clear how to value customers. Wharton (at UPenn) did research on S&P 500 Index companies from 1972 to 2013. They found that 80% of those companies were employing older business models where customers are primarily valued for their dollars — and not for their assets, insights, and contributions. This is a real problem.
Treating customers as assets is essentially the only way you can start on a path to customer-driven growth. Like I mentioned above, you need to earn that right to customer-driven growth. Because CCO work can often be a new position, or a position that other senior leaders don’t completely understand, you’re typically going to always be ‘earning’ everything you do. If you don’t treat customers as assets, you won’t earn the right to that growth.
Lest you think this is all about for-profit work, it’s not. In the second episode of my podcast, I talked with Martin Hand of St. Jude about honoring ‘donors as assets,’ which is a variation on customers as assets.
But … there’s a tricky time equation to everything about customers as assets. Let me try and help you.
The customers as assets time equation
Think about the term ‘customers as assets.’ If you’re most familiar with physical assets in a business, you know those take time to build up. It’s the same with customers as assets. We’re talking about strong customer relationships and customer experience. That does take time.
However, many businesses operate according to a quarterly cycle. There is often talk of “making the quarter.” I think this can be deadly to great customer experience in some respects, but that’s a topic for other posts.
The rubber meets the road here: you want to value customers as assets. But you need to show some achievements in the next three months, six months, nine months, etc. If you don’t show those achievements, your boss will start pushing back — and then it’s more about surveys and checkmarks and less about customers as assets.
How do you build these relationships in a relatively quick amount of time?
Customers as assets with leadership recipe cards
I’ve created “customer-centric recipe cards” right here on this site.
The customer focus competency recipe cards are based off the five customer experience competencies, which I’ve developed over 30 years of doing this type of work. (You can learn even more about the competencies here.) They are:
- Customers as assets
- Align around experience
- Build a customer listening path
- Proactive experience reliability and innovation
- One-company accountability, leadership, and culture
To do this work successfully, you need a place to begin. These customer focus competency recipe cards are quick, explicit actions you can take to begin improving your customer experience immediately.
For example, let’s talk about customers as assets. If you download the customer focus competency recipe cards at that link above, you’ll find six recipes to help you immediately get rolling on treating customers as fundamental strategic assets. Recipe 3, as part of the “Give Permission” aspect of customers as assets, is the “Kill A Stupid Rule” movement. This allows employees to identify rules that erode customer trust and diminish employees’ ability to drive value — and, once ID’ed, kill them. Fun, yea?
You can learn more about how to use the customer-focused recipe cards here.
Don’t hesitate to reach out regarding customers as assets
CCO work can feel isolating. If you ever need help developing plans and strategies for treating customers as assets, don’t hesitate to reach out.