One journey, together

Two weeks ago I attended GDS International’s Next Generation CMO Summit, a gathering of 120 marketing movers, shakers and decision makers from a great mix of household name brands and disruptive upstarts.

Three points were crystal clear:

1) Digital innovation offers huge potential.

2) Clear communication is still a success maker and breaker.

3) Always, always, always look at things from your customers’ point-of-view. Always.

That third point is what I want to focus on here. In fact, I believe it is such an important point it bears repeating…

Always, always, always look at things from your customers’ point-of-view. Always.

Understand your customers’ journeys and you will understand your business, and your role in the business.

Shut happens

Shut does happen. But does it happen at the right time for your customer?

Why are we doing something? Because it facilitates the customer journey or improves the customer journey.

Why are we measuring something? Because it impacts the customer journey, and that drives our success.

Why are we changing something? Because we want to consistently deliver a high-quality customer journey.

It’s all theory without practice, so this is how we are going to be using customer journey thinking in my company, GDS International.

We are a business-to-business media and services company. Our products include summits, conferences, virtual roundtables, and on-demand business video. (Implementation lesson #1: thankfully we’re not Amazon, our product range is a lot smaller and that really helps when you’re mapping the customer journey).

We understand what our customers want from our products and services. Our people are incredible onsite, at the main point of delivery. Now we are starting to understand how we can all be incredible every step of the way – and what impact that will have.

If we better understand our customer connection points, we better understand their experience, which means we can provide a better experience, and they enjoy working with us even more. It’s. All. Good.

Looking outside of your organisation, at the end-to-end experience your customer’s have with you, is the single best thing you can do for the inside of your organisation.

Why? There are many reasons; here is my top three:

1) Customer journeys cut across your organisation – sales, product, finance, HR, marketing – they touch everything. I believe that at least 95% of all people in GDS, are responsible for one or more parts of our end-to-end customer journey. This fundamentally changes your corporate culture for the better (according to McKinsey & Company, ‘journey-led transformations’ raise employee engagement by 30%).

2) You get dirty, quickly. Unless you look at things from the customers’ perspectives, the data behind your customer experience is stuck in silos. Team X does this; team Y does that. Cut through it. What does the end-to-end journey look like? How is marketing helping? What do your customer’s want from their experience with your billing function? Solve problems, celebrate successes, do it now.

3) Informed decision-making. You have conversations based on feedback and hard data. As a business owner with 20 years of experience behind me, I can – hand on heart – say: informed decisions are the best decisions. Bollocks to politics and political gamesmanship. This is business. It’s important.

The IBM Institute for Business Value recently interviewed 4183 C-suite executives from around the world. They say customers are second only to the C-suite in the level of influence they wield in the organization. The big question is: what has really changed – how has that information empowered their people?

That is what my senior team and I are talking about in GDS. I’ll let you know what happens.


About Spencer Green

Spencer Green founded GDS Publishing Ltd in October 1993 to specialise in industrial, government-led publications for the burgeoning Chinese market. The company launched over forty business-to-business titles, was name-checked alongside Tony Blair on China’s national news as ‘best for Chinese business’, and – following a move into India – deemed to be ‘of national importance’ by the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. In 1998, GDS Publishing became GDS International and launched its first conference, Enterprise China. The hugely successful Enterprise series of conferences was rolled out across China and Latin America in the next two years. In 2000, GDS International launched its first Senior Executive Summit under the ‘Next Generation’ banner. This became the catalyst for nine years of 25% year-on-year growth... and 40% growth in 2010. In 2011, GDS held over 70 Summits for C-level Executives from a wide range of industries and across the globe, and eight digital marketing conferences. Today, GDS International is determined to become the world’s no. 1 business-to-business media and services company. It’s going to be an exciting journey! Spencer is married to Emily. They have two children, Finlay and Maya, and live in Bristol, UK.
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