Progressive organisations understand that customer experience, whether an interaction with a sales person or a great meeting with a project manager, has a direct bearing on customer loyalty and your customers willingness to purchase more from the supplier. Research from Gartner found that 53% of a buying decision is dependent on customer experience with a further 19% of the decision influenced by service. If more than 70% of your customers decision making is driven by your customers having meaningful experiences with your team that helps them to create more value for their company - then getting the right people into those interactions is absolutely vital for success.
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Mobilising staff who have the right skills or knowledge to help customers solve their most pressing challenges is not easy. Customers can get annoyed when projects start late, or their favourite consultant isn’t available or worse when the delivery team is changed mid project.
Projects starting late is well known to impact cash flow and billing cycles - changing teams mid project or not having the right team available has a direct link to customer churn across management consulting, creative industries and high tech.
The ultimate cardinal sin is a delivery team walking into the customer’s office after 6 months of pre-sales conversations and asking “What would you like to achieve?”
Truly world-class outcomes are a result of joined up sales and delivery teams working together with the project management team meeting the customer at some point during the sales cycle.
Fixed ‘hand-overs’ are only effective to a point because they create a bottleneck and if this is missed, then delivery teams roll into customer interactions unprepared. Consider a playback session where delivery teams have to feedback the customer requirements to sales based on information in the CRM about the opportunity. In this way the onus is on the sales team to enter the right information for fear of being shown up in such sessions.
Base your capacity planning strategy on worst case scenarios - things rarely go to plan and customer demands can change. Hoping for the best and planning for the best will lead to problems. If you sell fixed price projects, plan using a 6 hour day rather than 8 hours to more accurately predict and hit due dates.
Your resource management strategy should focus on conflict resolution and early warnings. Give staff access to their forward schedule and potential projects that are in the pipeline - their engagement and awareness early in this process will ensure a fast start and happy customers.