Driving success in customer relationships requires internal alignment of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there, as well as internal accountability for following through. It’s why goal setting and action planning are such critical steps in managing your customer relationships.
In fact, one study found that listing goals, making a public commitment to those goals, and submitting progress reports increased the likelihood that both individuals and organizations would achieve their goals by an average of 50%.
With our experience helping suppliers do just that, this article walks you through how to set goals for your customer relationships using Advantage Report and create action plans that bring them to life and make your customer relationships more meaningful.
In the goal setting phase, your previous work of sharing feedback internally allows you to answer the question “where do you want to improve?” as a group. The answers to this question will give you clear opportunity areas for setting goals, which in turn helps to hold individuals and teams accountable for delivering success.
As a way to promote a healthy discussion among your team, ask yourselves:
- Are we, as an organization, in the lower tier of our category and seeking to move up?
- Is there a burning platform against which we need to leapfrog?
- Are we closing the gap to be the industry leader?
- Are we aiming to be in the top three for our category?
- Or are we trying to stop being reactive and having to put out fires?
Use the answers to these questions to frame the SMART goals your organization will focus improving upon.
Once your goals are clear, the action planning phase can begin. Once again, shared understanding of customer feedback is crucial here. Make sure your teams not only understand the feedback, but also have continued easy access to it. During action planning sessions this data should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds so that the feedback can be interpreted through four lenses to successfully identify key strengths and opportunities. These four lenses are your company’s performance:
- in the current year, both as a score and relative to your competitive set
- over time, looking at where you improved the most or declined the most
- relative to what is most significant to your customers
- relative to your strategic goals, both internally (i.e. company objectives) and externally (joint business partner plans)
Bringing them together to make it matter
Once you’ve defined your priorities and the path to achieving them through goal setting and action planning, think about the importance of getting the basics consistently right. Typically, supply chain, customer service, and retail execution are some of the prerequisites for improved engagement with customers regarding promotions, category, or strategy. What’s crucial is that you remain consistent in the actions that you take, as consistency is essential to long-term success.
Additionally, remember that it is important to create action plans at both the market and customer level, establish company-wide objectives, and take a more granular approach to understanding and delivering on your individual customer feedback. Rather than focusing on tackling everything in one sweeping gesture, it is important to have an account-based strategy because it is at the account level where you will make the most progress.
Action planning sessions should have a regular cadence and be discussed throughout the year, allowing for cross-team sharing of best practices and approaches. The best way to ensure this happens is to formalize this review process and set up recurring check-ins, workshops, and feedback sessions alongside your customers.
These phases are a crucial second step in the continuous process of delivering success in your customer relationships. Both the goals and plans will keep you accountable to yourselves and your customers, ensuring that you’re working each day to be better together.