Why you must leave 1 chair open at your board meeting

Ian Rhodes from Ecommerce Growth wrote “….the early days at Amazon, Jeff Bezos left a single chair empty around the boardroom table. It signified the presence of the customer. No matter what the discussion point, conversation would be aligned with the question ‘what’s best for our customer?’. Why? Because that empty chair represented far more than a void at the table. It represented exactly what every business decision, one way or another, meant to the chief decision maker. The customer.”

The legal definition of a board meeting is “a meeting of the board of directors of a company at which the policy of the company and major decisions as to its future actions are discussed”.  But one wonders, how many times are the needs and expectations of customers actually discussed at these meetings?  Sure, there are very important points to discuss like IT matters, Operational issues, Finance, Sales and Marketing, but none of these are relevant, if there aren’t any customers to serve.

So how do you know “what’s best for your customers”?  It’s actually quite easy – simply ask them! And if you have the right Customer Relationship Management strategy in place, it’s even easier. So is CRM a strategy, or an online tool?  It’s actually a combination of a company’s culture, its customer service strategy and an online tool.

You can virtually buy anything online these days and that is why CRM (knowing your customers, thereby knowing what is best for them) has never been more important that right now.

It all starts with the company culture – everyone should be aligned to deliver exceptional customer service, or to link to the latest jargon, make the CX (customer experience) top class.  Then you must ensure that this top-class experience is delivered throughout your company.  And to achieve this, you need a central data point (the CRM-tool) to give you at least the following:

A complete customer database, with up to date contact details
Communication history between your team and your customers
A clear view of:
Your clients
Potential clients (prospects)
Lost clients
Suppliers and any other people important to your business
Segmentation, to differentiate between the customers for personalised service, e.g.
Product selection
Special interests
Focus groups
An action stream, with reminders showing who must do what next
A sales pipeline, with goals, targets and actions
Once you have this in place, you can start getting creative with customers, like inviting the top customers to a VIP session where they get to share their needs and requirements, or what the heck, maybe a seat at the next board meeting …

Contact me to discuss your company’s CRM needs.

Marketing Level

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