Create Elated Customers for Life by Delivering Surprise & Delight Customer Service

Surprise & Delight Customer Service

Surprise & Delight Customer Service

The following is what you will learn by reading this blog:

  1. The main business capabilities for a company to possess to deliver superb and legendary customer service

  2. The most critical capabilities to develop in order to enable your front-line employees to be able to deliver excellent customer service

  3. The introduction of the concept and definition of Surprise & Delight Customer Service and how the world’s top customer service companies deliver this consistently

  4. Examples of the best Surprise & Delight Customer Service that I have personally encountered and how they are linked to the critical components listed in #2 above

  5. Top customer service companies considered to be world-class in delivering Surprise & Delight Customer Service

  6. The programs you need to implement so that your company can deliver consistent Surprise & Delight Customer Service to your customers


SECTION 1: Benefits of having elated, “surprised and delighted”, customers:

The research I have conducted indicates that truly elated customers, who are consistently surprised by the level of service they receive from your company, go on to tell multiple friends, relatives, acquaintances, co-workers about your company, products/services and stories of their great experiences interacting with your company. This grass roots customer advocacy transforms your customers from just your customers into infectious and 24×7 adjunct company sales and marketing agents, convincing people they interact with to buy from your company.

Additional research also shows that this customer transformation does not come when they rate your company and service as merely “Satisfied” but rather only when a customer is elated and rates your customer service with a 7 , or “Extremely satisfied”, rating as shown here:

Sample Customer Service Ratings

Sample Customer Service Ratings


The following graph illustrates the correlation between the rating provided by a customer on their customer service and the strength of their company advocacy and likeliness to recommend a company.

Correlation between Customer Satisfaction Ratings and the Likeliness to Recommend/Advocate for a Company

Correlation between Customer Satisfaction Ratings and the Likeliness to Recommend/Advocate for a Company


SECTION 2: Capabilities required to deliver exceptional “surprise and delight” customer service:

There are more than 10 dimensions in developing and delivering customer service excellence including the following:

  1. Development of a customer-oriented vision and strategy.

  2. Development of service excellence standards that are institutionalized across the enterprise.

  3. Development and maintenance of a company culture that drives team unity and focus as well as customer service excellence and a mindset of customers first.

  4. Implementation of a customer errors, omissions and anomaly recovery processes.

  5. Implementation of a customer experience and customer service excellence measurement system.

  6. Inclusion of customers in helping define and develop the final customer management capabilities, content, methods, etc.

  7. Implementation of a customer bill of rights and non-negotiable customer standards.

  8. Development of customer emotional connection points based on customer journeys.

  9. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

  10. Deployment of training that ensures front-line employees are customer service excellence certified so that they can deliver world-class customer first service.

  11. Delivery of surprise and delight (S&D) customer service & experience through the development of S&D customer processes.

While all of the above are important I feel that the last three are of critical importance in making customers consistently extremely satisfied.  In the next section we will cover the definition of surprise and delight customer service and share real examples of its delivery across many service-related industries.


SECTION 3 – Surprise & Delight definition, examples:

Surprise and delight customer service is consistently going well above and beyond customer expectations such that customers feel both surprised and delighted by their treatment & level of service by your company.

Surprise & Delight Customer Service

Surprise & Delight Customer Service

Here are some examples of where I have personally encountered surprise & delight customer service:


1) Hotels:

A) High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid, NY: I recently checked into the High Peaks Resort in the Adirondack Mountains during the time of my birthday.  The front desk has a champagne reception for all incoming guests. When we were offered champagne, my wife told them that we were celebrating my birthday.  The attendant responded by saying, “we will take care of it” and took the glasses away. I said to my wife, “that was confusing as they said we will take care of it” and then promptly took our glasses from us.   We got to our room shortly thereafter and heard a knock on the door. It was a service attendant with a bottle of champagne and a personalized birthday card signed by the front desk staff. Talk about surprise and delight customer service!! We were so impressed! Obviously, this resort embraces and understands the importance of S&DCS as described in #11 below.

  1. Delivery of surprise and delight (S&D) customer service & experience through the development of S&D customer processes

Here are the thoughts and emotions I recorded just after this superb treatment by the High Peaks Resort:

  1. They really care about their customers.

  2. This hotel really goes out of their way to make their customer’s stay memorable.

  3. They know how to make a customer smile.

  4. That just made my day.

Bottom line, I felt emotionally connected to the hotel and its employees following this treatment and felt like it was in business to make their customers happy vs. merely making $$$.

High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid NY

High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid NY


As a global consultant I have had my share of extended stays at Marriott hotels. Here are a couple of surprise and delight stories that I have always remembered:

B) Marriott Shelton, CT.   I stayed at the Shelton, CT Marriott for nearly 8 months, typically staying from Sunday to Friday. When the hotel wasn’t busy for the weekend, they blocked out my room for reservations and let me keep many of my belongings in my room so I didn’t have to pack & unpack each week and could feel at home upon returning.  While away, they would gather all my dirty clothes for dry cleaning and have them hanging in my room closet upon my return.  On my last evening at the hotel the hotel staff threw me a surprise farewell party! They paid for everything – dinner, drinks, etc.  Talk about taking care of the customer with true surprise and delight service! I am willing to bet this instance of the delivery of S&DCS came as a result of both 9 & 10 on our list of needed customer service excellence capabilities:

  1. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

  2. Deployment of training that ensures front-line employees are customer service excellence certified so that they can deliver world-class customer first service.

Here are the thoughts and emotions I recorded just after this superb treatment by the Shelton Marriott:

  1. I’d recommend this hotel to anybody.

  2. They really appreciate a customer’s business.

  3. I have never been treated so well by a hotel.

  4. What a welcoming place to stay – they made me feel at home!

C) Marriott Princeton, Princeton NJ: Another extended stay required me to stay at the Princeton, NJ Marriott for 7 months.  One evening I was entertaining clients at the bar after a day of numerous long meetings. One client was fond of Remy Martin King Louis XIII cognac which sold for about $145 per shot at the time. A tradition of Marriott was, that if you had the last shot from the bottle, they give you the bottle, made from Baccarat crystal.   My client ordered three shots over the course of several hours which emptied the bottle. The bartender, being new, said he never heard of giving such an expensive bottle away and refused to provide the bottle to my client. I complained to no avail as the bartender refused to budge. The next morning while dressing, I heard a knock at the door, and it was the hotel GM with the empty bottle of King Louis XIII as well an additional half full bottle. He asked me to accept his sincere apology for a relatively new and untrained bartender who was filling in the previous evening and promptly gave me the two bottles. Needless to say, my client was thrilled by this surprise and delight turn of customer service events!! I am willing to bet this instance of the delivery of S&DCS also came as a result of both 9 & 10 on our list of needed customer service excellence capabilities:

  1. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

  2. Deployment of training that ensures front-line employees are customer service excellence certified so that they can deliver world-class customer first service

Here are the thoughts and emotions I recorded just after this superb treatment by the Princeton Marriott at Forrestal Village:

  1. That general manager is a class act and knows how to run a hotel.

  2. I was shocked that my disappointment wasn’t the end of the story and it turned into a positive event I will talk about for years.

  3. It was refreshing that they admitted a mistake and then went above and beyond to make it right.

  4. Wow! Talk about doing a 360 and turning a disgruntled customer into a surprised and delighted one!

Marriott Hotel, Princeton, NJ

Marriott Hotel, Princeton, NJ


C) Marriott Philadelphia West, Conshohocken, PA (Philadelphia suburb): I was a senior executive at a consulting company in Conshohocken and traveled into the area frequently. The first several times in the area I stayed in several different hotels trying to find one that I liked. Since I was previously a Marriott top tier rewards member, I decided to give the Marriott Philadelphia West in Conshohocken, PA a try. The first time I stayed, I didn’t use the concierge lounge.  On my second visit, I did use the lounge in the evening and I fell in love with the place because of one incredible (a 1 in 1,000,000 person) great human being and Marriott employee.

The person’s name is Luigi and he not only manages the concierge lounge, he IS the concierge lounge and is the epitome of what a customer should experience at every concierge lounge across the globe. Luigi has been the manager of the lounge for many years and when possible, I go out of my way to stay at this hotel due because of his level of exceptional service.  Luigi always remembers my name, my wife’s name (even though he never met her), my favorite drink, food likes, dislikes, etc. I could be away from the hotel for many months and yet he always provides a warm friendly welcome” “Hello Mr. Jeffes – so nice to see you again!!” as he gives me a hug. He will tell you about all the appetizers and desserts being served that evening and then suggests some favorites. He entertains his guests by playing movies during movie night in the lounge. When he first introduced movie nights, he used his own money to provide the DVDs. Luigi clearly goes above and beyond and I can recall many surprise and delight moments where Luigi delivered superb customer service to me and many other guests. When you’re a road warrior like I was at the time, it’s the little things that make all the difference.  Seeing Luigi who makes a Marriott feel like your home and provides a relaxing haven when traveling, always puts a smile on my face. Luigi has surprise and delight customer service ingrained in his DNA and I have lost count of the number of times I have encountered this from him. One occasion stands out more than others in that I had an unusually dreadful day with many things not going as planned. I started early this day and worked unusually longer into the evening. I hadn’t slept much the night before and I was tired, hungry and feeling the pressure of the awful day I just had. When I went into Luigi’s concierge lounge, Luigi immediately picked up on my unusually sour mood as I must not have greeted him in the usual upbeat manner. He immediately sprung into gear, taking the following actions:

  1. Unsolicited, inquired of the front desk if there were any upgrades to a suite for me that evening.

  2. Asked if he could order my dinner to have it sent right to the lounge or my room.

  3. Handed me my favorite drink without asking.

  4. Since the lounge was very empty that night, asked me what I wanted on the television so I could unwind.

  5. Got me a hot towel to wipe my face and relax.

As a result, I started to immediately forget about the crappy day I had just had and started to feel myself relax. After about 30-45 minutes I was back to my old happy self with the experience of a bad day a distant memory.

What would happen to your service-oriented business if you had a Luigi? Your business volume and customer following would explode! Your customer loyalty would increase and customer service would become a distinct and immeasurable competitive advantage.


Luigi is a natural at delivering exceptional customer service and this 1 in 1,000,000 person and service comes as a result of Marriott getting lucky enough to hire someone so exceptional. How do I know? I have stayed at Marriott properties and other hotels across the US and have not met anyone that even comes close to delivering the level of service that Luigi does.

By implementing #9 on our customer service excellence capability list, you will have much better odds of hiring someone comparable to Luigi:

  1. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

Here are the thoughts and emotions I recorded when it comes to Luigi and his level of service:

  1. I’d drive a long distance out of my way to spend a relaxing evening with Luigi.

  2. Luigi is a 1 in a 1,000,000 in terms of delivering exceptional customer service.

  3. Marriott is so lucky to have Luigi working for them.

  4. If Luigi were to become the head of training for all Marriott service employees, Marriott would blow away their competition in terms of delivering exceptional S&D customer service.

I won’t list the thoughts and emotions for the remainder of my S&D examples, but the point is that delivering exceptional customer service delivers a lasting and positive emotional connection between the brand, product/service and with the customer.

Luigi, Concierge Manager at the Marriott Philadelphia West Hotel

Luigi, Concierge Manager at the Marriott Philadelphia West Hotel


  1. Ritz-Carlton, Battery Park, NYC. Ritz-Carlton is one of the top models for superior customer service world-wide and was a client in the past. Ritz-Carlton trains all of its employees to spot a customer opportunity in that they are trained to listen to and record each customer’s individual needs, issues, preferences, wants, wishes, etc. Employees are then empowered to deliver the type of service the customer wants without having to ask.


A great example is upon arriving at the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park, NYC a number of years ago, I remember casually saying to the bellman, among other topics, that I loved the view of lower Manhattan and that I didn’t eat on the plane.  I had just flown in from San Francisco. Upon checking in, the woman at the front desk smiled and called me by name before I mentioned it, told me that she arranged a high room with a beautiful view of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty and said she arranged for a snack to be waiting for me free of charge when I arrived at my room.  She said, “I heard that you didn’t have a chance to eat on your way here”. All of this was noted by the bellman and passed onto the front desk without my knowledge to deliver Surprise and Delight Customer Service upon check-in, something Ritz-Carlton is legendary at providing. I would consider Ritz-Carlton the platinum standard for delivering S&DCS as they possess and effectively deploy all 11 of the customer service excellence capabilities listed above. Their excellent service is not by luck or chance; it is ingrained in their culture and at the center of Ritz-Carton’s core values, policies and processes.


2) Restaurants:

A) Water’ s Edge Lighthouse, Schenectady, NY:

Water’s Edge Light House on the Mohawk River, Schenectady NY

Water’s Edge Light House on the Mohawk River, Schenectady NY

There are two local restaurants that my wife and I have frequented that have world-class professionals working at them. The first is the Water’s Edge Lighthouse in Schenectady, NY who employs a gentleman named Greg.  We had originally met Greg at another restaurant that sadly closed. Greg is the type of individual that remembers your name when you arrive, makes you feel at home when he is serving you, makes conversation about you and your family and takes every chance to ensure you are having a great experience. He gets to know his all of his many 100’s of customers by name and goes out of his way to anticipate and suggest my next need as I am in the process of thinking about it. My wife and I now call this level of customer service “the Greg standard”.  One time, we arrived on a Saturday night, having made a reservation earlier in the week.  Somehow the reservation had been misplaced and the restaurant was full.  When Greg learned of the situation, he said to me, “don’t worry we have you covered” and then made room for us in very short order when the place was absolutely packed. Talk about surprise and delight customer service. There was zero questioning of me about whether I had forgotten to make a reservation, which I hadn’t since I recorded the name of the person who confirmed and the time of day when I called).  Greg and the team just made it right.

Like Luigi, you would be lucky to hire someone like Greg, but you’ll need a lot of luck as he too, is one in a million.  By implementing #9 on our customer service excellence capability list, you will have much better odds of hiring someone comparable to Greg:

  1. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

Greg with the Manager of Waters Edge Lighthouse, Joey

Greg (left) with the Manager of Waters Edge Lighthouse, Joey


B) Mario’s New Lebanon, NY:

Mario’s Restaurant, New Lebanon, NY

Mario’s Restaurant, New Lebanon, NY

Sarah from Mario’s in New Lebanon, NY is another person who stands out as meeting “the Greg Standard” with her warmth, professionalism and exceptional service.  Sarah gets to know each of her customer’s names, likes, food and drink preferences.  She remembers the new wine that you tasted the last time you were in and makes everyone feel special.  We sometimes don’t even have to look at the menu as she will recommend a special that she thinks we will like or asks if we are ordering one of our known favorites.  At peak hours, Sarah handles customer requests with a sense of calm and professionalism. When she is serving numerous drinks, dinners and taking orders in person and via phone, she always finds time to smile and accommodate requests, chat, ask questions, etc.

My surprise and delight example from Sarah came when I atypically came in without a reservation due to a change in schedule.  Sarah looked at me and said they were full and then said, if you can wait a minute, I’ll see what I can do. Sarah did her magic and creatively asked the customers if they could move down to accommodate another guest which they all surprisingly and enthusiastically did.  Sarah has a “following” that enjoy dining at the bar when she is working.  Due to her pleasant demeanor and professionalism, I was able to get a spot for dinner, and even though the bar had squeezed in one more person, Sarah handled everything without a hitch and made me feel welcome.  Over the years, customers have shared with me that one of the main reasons they go to Mario’s is because of Sarah and the great food. Just like Luigi does for the Marriott Philadelphia West and Greg does for the Water’s Edge Lighthouse, Sarah’s presence adds to the overall experience of enjoying a delicious meal in a great atmosphere at Mario’s. Luigi, Greg and Sarah are all 1 in a 1,000,000 service professionals who are naturals at surprise and delight customer service and you’d be extremely lucky to hire someone like them.

Sarah from Mario’s Restaurant

Sarah from Mario’s Restaurant


3) Retail:

 A) Amazon:


There is a now famous story brought to light by the New York Times titled “Put Buyers First? What a Concept”. It details how a customer, by no fault of their own, didn’t receive a shipment of a PlayStation for his son just before the holidays. Here is an excerpt from this article and a potentially disastrous situation was turned into a surprise and delight customer service moment: “It was early in the morning, and I had awoken with the sudden, sinking realization that a present I had bought for one of my sons hadn’t yet arrived. It wasn’t just any present either; it was a PlayStation 3, a $500 item, and a gift, I happened to know from my sources, that he was hoping for. Like most things I buy online, the PlayStation had come from So I went to the site and tracked the package– something, thankfully, that is a snap to do on Amazon. What I saw made my heart sink: the package had not only been shipped, it had been delivered to my apartment building days earlier and signed for by one of my neighbors. I knocked on my neighbor’s door, and asked if she still had the PlayStation. No, she said; after signing for it, she had put it downstairs in the hallway.

Nonetheless, I got on the phone with an Amazon customer service representative, and explained what had happened: the PlayStation had been shipped, delivered and signed for. It just didn’t wind up in my hands. Would Amazon send me a replacement? In my heart of hearts, I knew I didn’t have a leg to stand on. I was pleading for mercy.

I shudder to think how this entreaty would have gone over at, say, Apple, where customer service is an oxymoron. But the Amazon customer service guy didn’t blink. After assuring himself that I had never actually touched or seen the PlayStation, he had a replacement on the way before the day was out. It arrived on Christmas Eve. Amazon didn’t even charge me for the shipping. My son was very happy. So, of course, was I.”  Source:


B) Zappos:




Right in-line with this blog article, Zappos is an e-commerce company whose #1 core value is to “Deliver WOW Through Service”.  In addition, in keeping with a customer first mantra, CEO Tomy Hsich states that Zappos is “a service company that just happens to sell shoes.” Here is a story I read while researching this article that definitely applies to Surprise and Delight Customer Service.  “Recently, a newly-married couple were packing up their belongings in preparation for moving. The husband packed his wife’s jewelry inside one of her purses, and packed the purse inside what he thought was a spare Zappos box. The wife, it turns out, was intending to return that purse to Zappos using that very box. Which she then does, having no idea that inside the purse now were several thousand dollars of her jewelry!

When the couple arrives at their new home and starts to unpack, bedlam breaks out as the wife figures out what has happened and why her jewelry is missing. The rep she reaches at Zappos decides to reroute the box directly to his desk, but once it arrives, the rep fears for the safety of the valuables if he were to ship them, and purchases a plane ticket to hand-deliver the package himself.  When he arrives, the incredibly grateful couple invite him in for dinner. Now they’re customers for life, as you can imagine.” Source:


Section 4: Top Surprise & Delight Delivery Companies:


Here is a list of several larger companies I consider to be at the top of their game and world-class in delivering surprise and delight customer service:

  1. Ritz-Carlton (consulting client)

  2. Marriott (consulting client)

  3. Zappos

  4. Amazon

  5. Southwest Airlines (consulting client)

  6. American Express (consulting client, 4 different projects)

  7. Costco

  8. Chic-Fil-A

  9. Wegmans Food Markets

  10. Publix

  11. Apple (consulting client)

  12. USAA Insurance


Section 5: How to implement Surprise & Delight Customer Service for your company or organization


How do companies like Amazon Ritz-Carlton and Zappos consistently deliver exceptional or legendary levels of customer service?  Do they rely on being lucky enough to hire the 1 in 1,000,000’s like Luigi from Marriott Philadelphia West or Greg from the Waters Edge Lighthouse or Sarah from Mario’s above, or do they possess something else, like a secret sauce to deliver this type of amazing customer service? Having consulted for Ritz-Carlton in the past, I know that many follow a similar 5 step process detailed below.

Step 1:  Map your customer journeys:


Leveraging an integrated team of process experts, customer service and front line employees, map the various ways customers journey through an experience with your company. Examples include:

  1. Customer prospect, exploring your potential services and/or products

  2. First time website visitor, buyer.

  3. Repeat or renewal website visits.

  4. Existing customer, new product and/or service purchase.

  5. Customer returns, complaints or warranty claims.

  6. Service termination or account closure.

Here is a chart that illustrates examples of these various types of journeys:


Customer Experience Journey Sample, Example

Customer Experience Journey Sample, with Measurements


Step 2:  LISTEN TO AND CULTIVATE meaningful and valuable customer needs, preferences, etc.:


In parallel with mapping you customer experience journeys, develop a program that continually gathers customer insights into what is most important and meaningful for each individual customer. A gift card could be given to any customer, but to know that customer A likes Starbucks, and customer B would love a Amazon Kindle gift card and customer C would value an ITunes gift card goes a long way to demonstrate that you are paying attention.  It also demonstrates that you are in tune with customer interests and care about them as individuals.  These 1-to-1, personalized surprise & delight moments build loyalty and  make a customer feel valued.


Step 3:  Map customer S&D opportunities along your customer journeys:

Once you have determined and documented the majority of your important customer journeys and determined what is meaningful and valuable to each of your customer’s preferences, start overlaying customer surprise & delight opportunities along these journeys. Here is a real example of how a client mapped a surprise a delight moment for high value customer issues. The key is to develop business rules that need to be satisfied in order for that surprise and delight moment to be fulfilled. In this case, a high value customer whose order was misplaced and later corrected once error was discovered, receives a gift as an apology for the error.

Customer Experience Journey with S&D Opportunity Process Example

Customer Experience Journey with S&D Opportunity Process Example


Example: Value of item lost $500. High value customer A would receive a $100 Starbucks gift card, customer B would receive a $100 Amazon gift card and customer C would receive a $100 ITunes gift card.


Step 4:  Develop & deploy customer S&D policies & procedures:


The next step is to distill all of the surprise & delight opportunities mapped along customer journeys into a set of front-line employee policies and procedures. Here are a couple of examples of each:


  • We will compensate high value (high value is client specific) customers for errors and anomalies that are of no fault of their own.

  • Front-line employees shall be responsible and rewarded for turning satisfied customers into delighted, loyal customers by empowering them to easily and quickly deliver surprise & delight moments.

  • Each front-line employee shall undergo front-line customer service certification training to ensure they are prepared and equipped to delivery legendary customer service via surprise and delight moments, customer needs cultivation, etc.

  • Cultivate and reward the best employee surprise & delight customer stories from each quarter and showcase and provide rewards for ‘the best of the best’ at the end of the year.


  • If a high value customer is calling to complain about a missing shipment of high value that was lost of no fault of their own, we will compensate with an item of meaningful value to that customer worth 20-25% of the missing item.

  • Prior to checking into the hotel, we will check the customer preference and need profile on record to ensure all needs are met during the upcoming stay.

  • Employees are to document all cultivated customer preference insights during their current visit in the global customer preference database in order better serve the customer’s individual likes, preferences, needs, etc. Details on how to do this are documented in the global customer preference database procedures manual and trained on during front-line employee customer service certification.

Step 5:  Develop a set of S&D hiring standards & train on S&D policies, procedures, etc.

The last step is to ensure you are hiring the best employees that they have the highest Exceptional Customer Service Aptitude (ECSA). In addition, you need to continually train and certify your employees on customer service policies, procedures, processes and how to consistently deliver exceptional, surprise & delight customer service.

1) Screen for the Best:

To hire those with the highest ECSA, you need to develop a customer service screening questionnaire as I have done for many clients to be able to consistently hire those who are predisposed at delivering great customer service and screen out those who are not. By doing this, you are screening employee candidates to find and hire only those who posses the characteristics that are most like Luigi, Greg and Sarah who are naturals at delivering exceptional S&D service.


2) Train to be the Best, Continually Improve:

The next sub-step is to develop a set of high quality customer service training materials and processes to certify your front-line employees on exceptional customer service delivery policies and procedures. All new employees should be certified via the training and all existing employees should have to re-certify to ensure adherence to the latest exceptional customer service policies and procedures. Ongoing training for all employees will help ensure a high level of customer service is being consistently delivered.



You can either hope for good luck in the hiring of natural and exceptional customer service employees that are 1 in 1,000,000 or you can develop a holistic Customer Service Excellence program with multiple dimensions and capabilities such that all employees perform to the level of a Sarah, Greg and Luigi. By hiring, training and enabling your front-line employees to consistently deliver surprise and delight moments for your customers, your company will develop a cult-like customer following similar to Zappos, Amazon and Ritz-Carlton.  Your customers will remain fiercely loyal and will actively advocate to increase your revenue, margins and brand reputation. With all this being true, there is no excuse to not actively work on creating the best surprise & delight customer program possible?!

If your organization is seeking experienced assistance in deploying legendary levels of “surprise and delight” customer service, then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or

Lastly, this is just one article of over 50 articles I have written on Customer strategy, customer experience, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 121,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here:

Best Practices in Customer Experience (CX) Measurement and Analytics

The following are the top 10 concepts you will learn in this blog article:

  1. What are the most common set of metrics used to measure customer experience quality and effectiveness.

  2. What these common customer experience metrics are used for

  3. When are these best practice customer experience metrics best measured

  4. What a customer journey (a.k.a. customer life-cycle) is and how it related to customer experience metrics

  5. Why a balanced scorecard is better than any one single customer experience metric

  6. Why NPS is not sufficient to provide a comprehensive picture of your customer experience quality and effectiveness

  7. The top 10 best practices in developing a world-class customer experience measurement program and balanced scorecard

  8. Sample of what a customer journey looks like as well the customer experience analytics collected at each journey phase

  9. Examples of embedded detailed customer journey phase analytics paired with summary & executive level customer experience analytics

  10. How to develop customer experience analytics that also drive the development and support of a customer first, surprise and delight culture.

Peter Drucker once said “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. This ageless and famous quote applies to almost all situations and customer experience is no exception. There is virtually no way to determine how effectively your customers are being treated without a robust set of measures to gauge how well you are fulfilling their needs, wants, desires, etc. In this blog article, we will cover the specific metrics that best practice companies use to measure their customer experience delivery along with it is done.


Peter Drucker's Famous Measurement Quote

Peter Drucker’s Famous Measurement Quote

The Chart below illustrates some of the more commonly used customer experience (CX) metrics and how/where they are used in the customer journey continuum.

Commonly Used Best Practice Customer Experience (CX) Metrics

Commonly Used Best Practice Customer Experience (CX) Metrics

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) – one of the most common uses of customer satisfaction ratings is on ratings websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google, etc. using the now famous five star rating system seen below. Other customer satisfaction feedback mechanisms are more sophisticated, querying customers on an array of customer experience topics that are multi-dimensional in nature.

Customer Satisfaction Score Example

Customer Satisfaction Score Example

  • Customer Churn Rate: Customer churn rate is almost always expressed in terms of a percentage and is a product of the number of lost customers divided by the number of retained customers for any given period (day, week, month, Quarter, Year).

Customer Churn Rate Example Calculation

Customer Churn Rate Example Calculation

  • Customer Effort Score: Customer Effort Score is recorded to keep a pulse on how easy it is for a customer to accomplish certain transactions with your company (e.g. return a product, handle an issue, inquire about upgrades, etc.). It is obtained via surveying customers following a major interaction and is expressed in terms of a numeric, typically on a 1-10 or 1 to 7 scale. Here is a sample I developed for a client where the score is translated into a 1 to 7 scale (from “Strongly Disagree”=1 to “Strongly Agree”=7).

Customer Effort Score Example Quantification

Customer Effort Score Quantification Example 

  • Customer Average Time to Resolution (CATTR): This metric is a measure the average time it takes to resolve categories of customer interactions (inquiry, product issue, service issue, contract renewal, return, etc.). This is expressed in average time per interaction category as shown in this example

Customer Average Time to Resolution (CATTR) Example Calculation

Customer Average Time to Resolution (CATTR) Example Calculation

  • First Contact Resolution (FCR): All companies should strive for what is called “one and done” customer service, enabling the customer to handle any need with one short effort. The benefits of achieving this are endless including the following: Research I have read has indicated that a 1% increase in FCR rates translate into decreasing operating costs by 1%, increases of both customer satisfaction and employee scores by 1-3% as well as increasing customer loyalty (up to 20%). How companies measure FCR vastly differs including surveying customers, tracking it in a CRM system, tracking it in a contact center database or querying the customer at the end of a call. Many companies sadly do not track this metric and lose out on the visibility and resulting benefits this provides.

One & Done Customer Service

One & Done Customer Service Creates Elated Customers

  • Contract Renewal Rates: This metric is more company specific but, when applicable and used in conjunction with the other metrics, provides a great barometer on the health of the contract oriented business. For example, you might be experiencing great FCR and customer average time to resolution, but contract renewal rates might be lagging due to a perceived lack of value by the customer for the price paid. By using this metric in a balanced scorecard along with CSAT, FCR, CATTR you have a much more comprehensive view of total customer satisfaction than with just a few measures, allowing you to reduce business risk and potential revenue surprises.

High Contract Renewals = High Customer Satisfaction

High Contract Renewals = High Customer Satisfaction

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the most commonly used and simplest customer experience metric that exists.  NPS is typically measured by asking the following question:

How likely are you to recommend [business, service, product] to a friend or colleague?

Customers rate your company, service, product, etc. on a scale of 0 to 10. Respondents are grouped in the following categories:

    • Customer Promoters (Score 9-10)

    • Customer Passives (Score 7-8)

    • Customer Detractors (Score 0-6)

Calculate Net Promoter Score is typically calculated by subtracting the percentage of net detractors from net promoters. Here is a great illustration on how this is determined, calculated:

Net Promoter Score Example Calculation

Net Promoter Score Example Calculation

It has been found that only those customers who provide a rating of a 9 or 10 on the NPS scale are those who will truly become adjunct volunteer company sales and marketing agents and are a result of experiencing surprise and delight levels of customer service. These same elated customers are the ones who tell everyone they meet about your exceptional company and your amazing, services, products, customer service, etc. More on this in a future blog that will address the topic of “Delivering Consistent Surprise and Delight Customer Service”.


On this last point of NPS, there exist many misnomers about what to measure for customer experience effectiveness. Many professionals I have met in my consulting travels have the misconception that measuring one metric like Net Promoter Score (NPS) is sufficient to measure the quality of the customer experience you are delivering to their customers.  This is equivalent to believing that taking your body temperature is sufficient to determine your overall health when in actuality there are many measures taken together that help make this healthy/not healthy determination. The same is true for measuring the quality of your customer experience. While NPS is a good measure for helping to determine the quality of your customer experience effectiveness when used correctly, similar to body temperature, it must be augmented with many other measures to determine its overall effectiveness.


Other customer experience metrics include employee turnover (a leading indicator of customer satisfaction), year-over-year same customer spend, customer loyalty and average longevity, customer acquisition rates over time, etc. I will go more into this when I cover the topic of customer journeys.

Customer Experience, Satisfaction Humor

Customer Experience, Satisfaction Humor

First, let’s examine my recommended top 10 best practices for measuring your customer experience delivery effectiveness.

  1. Monitor Customer Experience Metrics in Real Time and continuously improve customer experience programs based on actual CX metrics/program performance.

  2. Track top level Customer Experience (CX) Metrics for all customers (i.e. average customer satisfaction) and for individual customer segments (i.e. price sensitive customers or high value customers).

  3. Request both customer qualitative and quantitative ratings throughout the Customer Life-cycle during critical customer interactions. Accomplish this my providing a conduit for your customers to become brand partners who are invited to participate in providing program feedback prior to full launch, provide detailed focus group feedback on selected topics and for most valuable customers to participate in exclusive customer advisory boards.

  4. Ensure group appropriate customer experience metrics are being delivered to each layer of the organization (highest importance summary level for CEO – Chief Customer Experience officer, more granular metrics for tactical managers and line staff).

  5. Cultivate and measure your own internal customer metrics and calibrate against externally measured CX like the American Customer Satisfaction index or metrics collected by firms like the Service Management Group (Kansas City), Direct Opinions (Beachwood Ohio), C-Space (Boston), Engine Group (NYC), etc.

  6. Track customer experience effectiveness via a balanced scorecard of Customer Experience Metrics including customer satisfaction, NPS, Customer Churn and renewal rates, customer spend per year and employee turnover (a proven leading indicator of customer satisfaction).

  7. Ensure the collection and dissemination of Customer Experience metrics meet the golden rules of being seamless to your customers, easy to obtain and are ingrained as part of normal business operations.

  8. Review customer experience metrics during key management reviews like operational reviews, leadership team reviews and financial reviews. Ensure action plans are developed for metrics above and below expected performance levels.

  9. Ensure that the company culture and training is supported and in-line with customer experience metrics by making everyone’s KPIs metrics align to the performance of key customer metrics.

  10. Develop customer journeys (a.k.a. customer life-cycles) and develop customer experience metrics for each major step in the customer journey.

The last best practice is to identify key end-to-end customer journeys or paths of customer progression when engaging your company and then attach appropriate customer experience journey analytics along those customer paths. Once you understand the different touch-points and how they impact the overall customer journey, you will be in a far better position to pick the most appropriate metric to use at each touch-point. The best metric is company determined based on a developed set of customer experience standards and goals.


In my example in the introduction, Net Promoter Score (NPS – which answers the question, “How likely are you to recommend [business, service, product] to a friend or colleague?” and is rated on a 0 to 10 score), is not a total customer experience solution metric. The reason is that NPS works best when measured at the end of a customer journey (a.k.a. customer life-cycle), such as at contract renewal time. For example, if a customer is getting frustrated returning a product or trying to resolve a service issue, then they will likely defect long before they are queried on NPS. It is better to measure customer satisfaction right after an interaction to have real-time insights into a customer’s experience satisfaction and not wait until NPS query time.


Here is a sample customer journey I developed from a recent client consulting engagement along with the metrics they decided to collect at an aggregate level as well as along this customer journey. Some of the metrics and customer journey names have been changed to protect my client’s identity. In addition, this client wanted to err on the side of measuring many metric points frequently and not all clients are this exhaustive in measuring their program. Some of these metrics were already in place before we added many others.

Customer Journey Analytics Illustration

Customer Journey Analytics Illustration

The above illustrates one of the main customer journeys (discover to renewal) in the life of a customer along with the Macro customer phases in that journey (i.e. 1-customer discovery, 2-customer sales & on-boarding, 3-customer support, 4-customer renewals) as well as the micro phases in that journey (product, service credibility evaluation).


The above chart also illustrates the fact that it is important to track global/summary metrics at the top of the organization (i.e. total customer satisfaction) in order to gauge overall customer experience health and to balance these with more granular measures along the customer journey phases (i.e. First Contact Resolution in the on-boarding and support phases). While there is a recommended set of best practice metrics to collect for standard customer journeys, each company will make a different selection of the mix of metrics. For example, if a company’s life blood is contract renewals then the metrics will be more geared toward gauging the customer’s satisfaction for the existing contract experience (value for contract price, value of contract to client’s business, contract terms & ease of doing business vs. perhaps product return rates).


One best practice embedded in the above is to report on the number of customer stars (in the 1st and 3rd phases above) per period whereby employees who have delivered exceptional “surprise and delight customer service” are recognized and rewarded. Customers of this company as well as executives from the company are provided incentives to recognize employees who went above and beyond in delivering exceptional customer service. This company tracks this via reports and recognizes top employee customer stars quarterly and annually with top company customer stars getting recognized, rewarded, etc. This helps build a culture of support for being customer exceptional with top stories being told over and over to teach employees what it means to be customer exceptional  and encourage others to emulate this valued behavior.


In summary, measuring your customer experience quality/effectiveness must be guided by a set of best practices to be effective and comprehensive. The use of customer journeys as well as customer experience journey analytics, balanced by summary customer experience metrics comprises a customer experience balanced scorecard.  By not measuring or under-measuring your customer experience delivery effectiveness, you are flying blind and having to take guesses as to whether your program is delivering exceptional customer service to your customers or not. Only when you reach the level of consistently delivering exceptional “surprise and delight” customer service will you reap bottom line benefits of accelerated customer acquisition, reduced sales and marketing costs, increased customer loyalty and increased employee and customer satisfaction.


With all this being true, there is no excuse to not actively work on creating the best customer experience program possible!!

If your organization is seeking experienced assistance in measuring and improving your customer service and customer experience, then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or


Lastly, this is just one article of nearly 50 articles I have written on Customer strategy, customer experience, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 121,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here:

The Corporate Culture Top 5: Benefits, CxO Roadblocks, Myths, Trends, Best Practice Companies, Measurement Tools/Vendors, Best Approaches to start Improving

What you will learn in this blog article:

  1. What exactly is corporate culture – simple definition?

  2. The top 5 benefits of having an optimal corporate culture.

  3. The top 5 reasons CxOs put up roadblocks toward improving company culture.

  4. The top 5 myths associated with improving a company’s culture.

  5. The top 5 trends in corporate culture – a true (corporate) cultural revolution.

  6. Five (5) familiar sample companies that have great company cultures & why.

  7. The top 5 vendors & technologies to support corporate cultural measurement & improvement.

  8. Five (5) ways to get started, pilot some smaller and cost effective culture improvement programs.


Top Company Cultures

1. What exactly is corporate culture – simple definition?

Corporate culture simply put is a company’s beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management treat and interact with each other and all of their stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, regulators, influencers, etc.  A corporate culture is implied, not usually expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of, and interactions with, company employees and stakeholders.  A company’s culture is reflected in, but not defined by, its dress code, quality of work-life, quality of office accommodations, employee perks and benefits, turnover rate, hiring, treatment of customers/employees, customers/employee satisfaction and every other aspect of company operations.  It not about any one specific corporate program like longevity awards, benefit packages, etc., but a totality of all programs and actual treatment (not words or slogans).


2. The top 5 benefits of having a optimal company culture

A. Provides the ability to attract & retain the top talent in the marketplace. Google is legendary in terms of culture and the number of people that line up who want to work there. For example, Google receives over 3 million high quality applicants each year! Only 7,000 of the 3 million are hired which gives candidates only a 0.2% chance of getting hired. Obtaining a job at Google is reportedly 10x-15x more difficult than being admitted to an institution of higher learning like Harvard, Yale, MIT and Wharton.

B. You create 24/7 advocates worth millions (or billions) in equivalent marketing spend: With a great company culture, everybody transitions from an employee, stakeholder and observer into a 24/7 advocate, igniting a marketing buzz worth 10’s of millions, if not billions of dollars. From the 30’s to the 80’s everyone I knew spoke glowing reviews of IBM, GE, AT&T, etc. and how great it was to work there, their products, their culture, management’s prowess, etc. They would have had to spend billions in marketing to replicate the free market buzz they received simply as a result of having a great company culture.

C. Sales and Marketing Improves dramatically: Sales prospects, marketing acquisition targets, and existing clients are all easier to sell and acquire since, due to the positive brand buzz, they feel more comfortable buying, buying more, spending more, referring associates, etc. since the company is perceived as a solid company, “doing the right thing”. These sales benefits are also worth their weight in gold vs. the paid branding and PR that would have to be done to try to replicate it (paid PR and marketing are not as trusted nearly as much as word-of-mouth, genuine advocacy by customers, employees, etc.).

D. You are perceived as great company leaders who truly care, inspiring employees to go the extra mile: You create an environment where employees can spend more time with the family, sleep well at night, are not stressed to the max as a result of working in a toxic work environment. They also just feel good about the company and its leaders to reach out to offer help to their co-workers unsolicited (vs. undermining them in toxic cultures), spend time on company improvements that weren’t asked for (vs. counting the hours where it is acceptable to leave for the day in toxic cultures), etc.  I once worked for an amazing boss who maintained a great company culture and everyone in the company would do anything for this boss and his company (stay very late, work most weekends, etc.) without giving it a thought. Contrast this to clock watching until quitting time in toxic work cultures.

E. Improves quality standards, customer service and ethical standards. It teaches the most valuable lesson of doing the right thing, doing right by people, employees and most importantly – customers. With a great company culture, you create an environment whereby employees feel that they are cared for and work for a company with high ethical standards and ideals. This translates into higher quality standards, greater regard for customers, vendors, alliance partners, suppliers and doing the right thing by all of them (employees feel this is fair reciprocation since you are doing the right thing by them as employees).


3. The top 5 myths associated with improving a company’s culture:

A. Myth #1 – Improving the company culture is going to cost a great deal. False. Simple and low cost things can be done like initiating participation contests to name campaigns, logos, newsletters, etc. as well as performing team member spotlights that showcase their abilities and interests outside of work.

B. Myth #2 – Improving the company culture is a futile exercise since we can’t really measure it. False. New quantitative tools in the marketplace now make this possible. Refer to section 7 below.

C. Myth #3 – It is the job of HR and organizational development to improve the company culture. False. Without the support and sponsorship of the CEO, leadership team and mid-level managers, any attempts to improve the company are likely to fail.

D. Myth #4 – Improving the company culture is a pure cost exercise and will likely only make our management jobs more difficult. False. Improved company cultures usually pays back the initial improvement investment in multiples of anywhere between 2x and up to 10x, depending on numerous factors like program cost and implementation effectiveness.

E. Myth #5 – Great company cultures are only for the ‘neuvo’ high tech companies full of Millennials. False. Even some of the traditionally stodgy organizations like accounting and tax firms have made their cultures so unique, fun and rewarding to work for, they are breaking the stereotypes of their industries and are becoming ‘the place to work’ for top talent and the place to bring your business to for customers.


4. The top 5 reasons some executives (CxO’s) put up roadblocks and push-back at the idea of improving their company culture:

A. The company’s existing leadership is dominated by left side brain thinkers who are good in math, science, logic, accounting, science, etc. and cringe at the thought of how employees feel, the corporate atmosphere and the “touchy feely side of the business” (actual CEO quote). These leaders would rather leave this to their HR staff if they are also not left brain thinkers, otherwise culture improvement is likely doomed at those ‘group think’ left brain companies.

B. They are extremely bottom line oriented and frugal; hence, any talk of improving the company culture is viewed as a potential expense and an attack on the bottom line (i.e. the owner’s profits). The truth is that culture can be improved with zero expense (if needed) and impact on the bottom line. Culture is just seen “as a way for employees to get more benefits” (yet another CEO quote).

C. The executives feel that the existing culture is immeasurable and “hard to wrap your arms around” (another CEO quote), so they don’t know where to start. This was a valid objection until recently with the advent of new cultural measurement tools (refer to section 7 below).

D. Following on C above, since there are few ways to determine how good or bad the current culture is, there is no burning platform or business case to improve. In this case, if the culture isn’t (confirmed) broken, there is no need to fix culture.

E. The leaders are arrogant, myopic or clueless in that, while there are glaring gaps in customer service & satisfaction, employee satisfaction (i.e. Glassdoor employee reviews), product and/or service quality, etc, they continue to delude themselves into believing their company and its operations are excellent or world-class, customers are elated, etc. without any empirical evidence to support these beliefs and claims.


5. The Top 5 Trends in culture, how the corporate culture revolution is upon us

A. The new workforce is much more geared toward and attracted to a positive work experience and the quality of work-life vs. being more compensation driven as were the baby boomers and before.

B. Learning, personal development and working in a healthy environment (mentally and physically) are keys to making the overall employee experience more fulfilling and rewarding. It is as simple as, if employees have a pathway to learn and grow with a company, the more likely they are going to find the overall experience, per #1 above, more engaging, enjoyable, etc.

C. The new workforce of today wants to connect and build relationships with their co-workers. If the proper environment is prevalent, this will happen. Otherwise, a toxic and back-stabbing culture is one where co-workers are forced to distrust, despise and grow a disdain for fellow team mates. People tend to stay longer and remain company loyal within company environments where they have friends as co-workers vs. fakes and backstabbers.

D. Employees of today want to work for an organization that has a deep and significant purpose they can connect with such that their contributions are more meaningful than just collecting a paycheck. Today’s employees want their work to mean something significant to society, their country, the world and their families.

E. Employees more and more require and even demand company and leadership ‘genuineness’. This means that the rhetoric of company slogans need to match up with company and leader actions and follow-through. For example, if a company lauds its treatment of employees and work-life balance, there better be that feeling that this is genuine with a vast majority of employees. If not, it would be like marrying someone (employee-company) that you can’t trust. After a while, the relationship is guaranteed to sour.


6. Top 5 US and Global Companies I have either worked for or consulted with that have great corporate cultures:

A. Intuit – Intuit recently ended up on “People’s 50 Companies That Care” list. People highlighted our 32 hours of paid time off to volunteer, as well as pet insurance and paid time off whenever a beloved furry friend passes away. In addition, they embrace diversity more than many companies; help support the community, the environment, veterans, etc. When I consulted with Inuit, many employees shared with me that they really enjoy working for Intuit and you could feel the positive vibe in meetings, speaking to executives, etc. Intuit also recently earned a 4.2 on Glassdoor from their employee reviews at the time of this blog development. Check out their blog on “People and culture”:

B. American Express – I have consulted with American Express for many years, helping to provide expertise and insights that would help take their marketing, sales and customer service to the next level. Everyone I interacted with at American Express was truly professional, a cut above talent that I typically encounter at other companies and people seemed to really enjoy their work experience. American Express also earned a 4.0 on Glassdoor from their employee reviews at the time of this blog development. Check out their blog on “Company Culture”:

C. Southwest Airlines – The culture at Southwest Airlines is more than legendary. They recently earned a very high 4.3 on Glassdoor for employee reviews about “working at Southwest”. They have been written up for Culture by numerous publications like “Company Culture Soars At Southwest Airlines” by Forbes. In addition, when I was on a consulting project there, you could tell that employees genuinely enjoy working for the company and many told me they had fun.  Ironically enough, their CEO has a Jester Archetype which means he likes to joke, have fun, encourage a light and fun company culture (as you can tell when on many Southwest flights (attendants making jokes, signing songs, tricking out passengers – all in an attempt to get the passengers feel more at ease, laugh, etc.. Read more here:

D. Adobe – Adobe recently earned a high 4.1 on Glassdoor for employee reviews about “working at Adobe”. From what I have seen and heard from those working there in the past, the culture is “electrifying”, “motivating”, “exciting”, etc. Don’t take my word for it, read here what actual employees have said in Adobe blog #AdobeLife ( – small sample of many:

  • “I have never worked for a company who has such a strong brand for which many customers are so passionate. The brand and our commitment to maintaining that brand contribute greatly to the pride I feel when saying I work at Adobe.”

  • “The culture here is real. This is the most professional and positive company I have ever worked for. Nearly every single person treats, and communicates with each other, with respect. This is unusual because we are a fast growing, high tech company. Even with our exponential growth, respect remains.”

  • “The largest trait that makes Adobe unique is that you get a genuine feel that the company cares about you as an employee. The amount of effort that Adobe takes to make sure employees have a safe and comfortable working environment as well as the large amount of great benefits is astounding.”

E. Wegmans Food Markets – First Danny and now Colleen Wegman have done a wonderful job in shaping a market that not only provides exceptional service to its customers, but also delivers a world-class internal corporate culture. I have shopped and continue to shop at Wegmans and find it an experience to look forward to. As opposed to some of my local grocery markets where I have to deal with grumpy and gruff store associates and even managers, Wegmans employees appear to really enjoy their working experience. Consistently Wegmans has be written up as one of the top workplaces in America. In addition, Wegmans recently earned a very high 4.2 on Glassdoor for working there, a great and a consistent score for companies that have an excellent corporate culture. Read more here on CBS News –


7. The top 5 technologies & vendors to support corporate cultural measurement & improvement

Refer to “Vendor Ratings Disclaimer” below*. 

CultureIQ, CultureTalk  and Denison (listed alphabetically) are the cultural improvement pure plays leading the charge:

Until recently, CEOs could use the excuse and easily erect the all too common roadblock of “how do we get our arms around culture”, “it is hard to measure”, “that is so ambiguous, how do even know what our culture is, let alone improve it?” per section 3 of this article .  These would all be quasi-valid excuses today if it were not for the advent of a new category of cultural measurement software tools that make this excuse obsolete. While there are not many “cultural accelerator tools” on the market as of yet,  these tools/vendors enable a quantum leap in the measurement and quantification of corporate cultures (if you dare to ask).  As I have explored several of these new cultural measurement and improvement tools, three in particular have really caught my attention as a high potentials to become a market leaders.  These new culture improvement pure play* tools I will specifically focus in on is CultureIQ (, CultureTalk ( and Denison (  for the reasons you will learn below.

*Culture improvement pure play tools/vendors are defined as those companies that were founded on and primarily focused on improving company cultures (vs. being part of a larger mix of tools/services).


1. CultureIQ:

A. CultureIQ background – CultureIQ started by providing culture improvement consulting services about 40 years ago qualifying the company to be an early pioneer in this space along with Global consultancies like Accenture, Deloitte, KPMG, etc. The technology to support their consulting arm is a relatively recent development since this part of their business was founded in 2013 and launched formally in 2014. The launch of the technology platform is backed by a venture capital firm and has helped fund a jump start of this platform into the marketplace in a major way.

B. CultureIQ Key Differentiator: CultureIQ’s key differentiator is that they provide the consulting expertise from within their own company vs. leveraging 3rd party consultants to drive their technology platform, making a great choice for one-stop shopping of a comprehensive vendor – technology with consulting.

C. CultureIQ Approach:  The most positive impact and yet another key differentiator of this vendor is that they lead with consulting services first to determine the business requirements for culture improvement. Only then do they configure the technology solution that addresses these specific needs. CultureIQ addresses many aspects of cultural improvement, with the only difference being that they do not assess and profile and individual’s culture type and fit like CultureTalk below. If you are not seeking this aspect of insights, CultureIQ is also a good choice.

CultureIQ Approach Overview

CultureIQ Approach Overview


D. CultureIQ Platform – CultureIQ’s diagnostic solution set is specifically configured to address individual business needs as determined by the lead-in consulting discovery phase. CultureIQs platform holistically aggregates insights from an array of heterogeneous sources. Per their website -“consolidates all types of feedback from annual, pulse, and employee life-cycle surveys (e.g., on-boarding and exit surveys) — across the enterprise.” In essence, CultureIQ aggregates an an array of culture insights and then drives an actionable improvement plan based on these continuous insights.

E. CultureIQ Consulting Services: CultureIQs consulting services is delivered via their own consultancy which has had over 40 years of experience helping improve company cultures. Their consulting services are very holistic and comprehensive per the CultureIQ website: “Our data scientists, organizational psychologists and business strategists become an integral part of your team.”  This consulting model is an ongoing presence of their consultants to help you improve your company’s culture.  For example, CultureIQ provides the following type of consulting services :

  1. Designing a Global Listening Program

  2. Conducting Executive Briefings (culture readouts)

  3. Providing Total Rewards Optimization

  4. Conducting Culture Focus Groups

  5. Culture Design and Evaluation

  6. Key Sales audience for CultureIQ: The primary audience for CultureIQ’s platform, as evidenced by their website, is HR professionals.

  7. CultureIQ’s Key competitors: Perceptyx, CultureAmp and Glint.

At the time of this writing, CultureIQ was launching “an updated culture model called “CultureAdvantage”. Check it out here: CultureAdvantage Model.  Due to the velocity in updating their solution as well as their longevity in providing consulting services as well as M&A culture analysis, CultureIQ is definitely a vendor/tool to keep watch on and consider.

A special thank you to Sheridan Orr from CultureIQ for assisting me and pointing me to Brady Loeck, a CultureIQ Account Director who I interviewed for this article!


2. CultureTalk:

A. CultureTalk Background:

First, some background on how CultureTalk was formulated. CultureTalk, is based on the work of Swiss psychotherapist Carl G. Jung and Dr. Carol Pearson who believe that human behaviors are guided by the same inner road-map and by a set number of (12) common Archetype patterns.  CultureTalk answers the questions Who am I? and Who are we? in terms of which specific Archetype (1 of 12) each of our organization’s team members associate most with as well as which specific Archetype best defines our overall organization.

There aren’t good or bad Archetypes, but each has a strength and shadow side that we need to understand in order to drive maximized organizational effectiveness and this is especially true when merging two different Archetypal cultures.

Here is an overview of each of the 12 types of Archetypes:

The 12 Cultural Archetypes of CultureTalk

The 12 Cultural Archetypes of CultureTalk

*Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

Each of the 12 Archetypes above comes with a set of predominant traits (shown above) and shadows that need to be understood and managed.

B. CultureTalk’s Key Differentiator:

The most important  and differentiating feature of CultureTalk’s is that it addresses both the culture type of the individual as well as the overall organization simultaneously which is critical in a holistic cultural assessment initiative.  Here is the holistic and 360° corporate eco-system CultureTalk covers:

CultureTalk's Culture Focus Areas
CultureTalk’s Culture Focus Areas

C. CultureTalk’s focus areas:

  1. Individual (left above, from top to bottom):

  • Establishes an Individual Archetype Profile – helps employees understand their most optimal roles and assignments

  • Enables Hiring for Cultural Fit – Enables both the company and the candidate to make an optimal choice when selecting an employee to hire and company to work for

  • Articulate personal brand – makes it easier for team members and management to understand and manage to key strengths and motivations

  • Develop coaches, career plans, success and performance – Enables employees and manager to migrate to the right roles based on their specific archetype(s).

  • Enables enhanced collaboration and minimizes conflicts – By enhancing understanding of personal brands, archetypes and key motivators, it allows for team members to better communicate and empathize with fellow team members

2. Organization (right above, from top to bottom):

  • Establishes an Organizational Archetype Profile – helps the organization understand their key strengths, characteristics, blind spots, development needs, etc.

  • Mergers, Acquisitions, Partnerships, Alliances – Enables the company to understand key differences, risks, potential contention points and synergies for each of these potential partners, acquisitions.

  • Evolve based on Market Changes – enables better and more effective organizational changes based on changing market demands by knowing what the organization is (where we are) and where they need to go (quantifiable).

  • Company and Organization Brand – Allows the company to better define and articulate the brand to all external and internal stakeholders so that people ‘get the company’.

  • Team and Sub-Team Collaboration Improvement – This allows the company to understand the inner and sub-dynamics that exist within the realm of the company to enable more effective inter-team cooperation and communications.

D. CultureTalk Platform: The CultureTalk platform consists of two different culture surveys, one for the individual and one for the organization. The insights from these culture platform surveys then drive the holistic cultural improvement plan that is developed by their network of independent 3rd party consultants. While the leader survey is not specifically geared toward individual cultural analysis as is CultureTalk, the results of the leadership development 360 survey is used to drive leadership improvement in helping shape a more improved culture.

E. CultureTalk Consulting Services: Unique to CultureTalk is that the network of independent 3rd party culture improvement consultants from across the globe buy their surveys from CultureTalk and then deliver the culture assessment (via the individual and organizational CultureTalk surveys). They then add their own consultant’s expertise, using the cultural assessment results to start to improve the culture. CultureTalk does occasionally take on a consulting role and assists their consultants delivering consulting services, but the majority of services are delivered via a network of independent consultants that have been certified as CultureTalk capable consultants.

F. Key Sales audience for CultureTalk: CultureTalk is sold to a network of Independent 3rd party consultants who buy survey packages in varying numbers from CultureTalk as the licensing survey vendor (similar to DISC and MBTI).

G. CultureTalk’s Competitors: CultureTalk considers its competitors to be Strength Finder, MBTI, Insights, Kolbe Index, OCAI, Denison, DISC and Culture AMP.

Due to their unique capability to analyze both the individual and organization as well as M&A situations in the cultural analysis phases, CulureTalk is a vendor to consider and watch.

A special thank you to Theresa Agresta, a Founder at CultureTalk, for supplying the above charts and for speaking with me for this article!


3. Denison:

A. Background – Denison, led by Daniel Denison, got its start nearly 30 years ago, born out of Corporate Culture research driven by several universities like University of Michigan in determining the effect of corporate culture on corporate performance. Denison determined via this research that a company’s culture quality rating was a leading indicator of future performance in that the culture quality today will determine how well a company will perform in the future; say 1-3 years from now. The survey and technology/system developed in the 1990’s by Denison to support their consulting arm was influenced by early pioneers in survey design and theory including Rensis Likert. Denison has grown steadily to now having nearly 40 cultural improvement professionals on staff in the US and Europe.

B. Denison’s Key Differentiator:

Denison ‘s key differentiators are that it has several Fortune 500 global cultural improvement clients including a large multi-national energy client and a Japanese manufacturing and technology giant.  Dension also has a unique mix whereby half of their clients are in the US and the other half outside the US (Europe, Asia, etc.). Denison also teams holistically with other firms (Tier 1 consulting firms, research firms, etc.) across the globe to deliver the best client experience possible based on client needs. Denison also helps assess two cultures when facing an M&A situation, the only leading tool in addition to CultureTalk, that performs this analysis function.

C. Denison’s focus areas: Denison’s model of organization culture focuses on taking a balanced scorecard approach to measuring culture along four major dimensions: Adaptability, Mission, Consistency and Involvement as shown by this graphic that explains their measurement rubric.

Denison Model Overview

Denison Model Overview

E. Denison platform: The Denison platform consists of two different surveys, one for the organization and one for company’s leaders which is called the leadership development 360 survey. The insights from these culture platform surveys then drive the holistic culture and leadership improvement plans that are developed by Denison consultants, in conjunction with the client.

F. Denison Consulting Services: Denison, while providing the preponderance of consulting services via their own team of cultural improvement consultants, also teams when client appropriate, with other consulting firms like KPMG, Deliotte, RHR company, etc. Denison leads the client engagement to determine client needs and then develops a custom and client tailored approach and set of services (similar to CultureIQ). This initial analysis includes a set of key client questions that help determine the client’s specific needs and requirements.

G. Key Sales audience for Denison: Denison is sold to any array of stakeholders seeking to improve their corporate culture including HR professionals, learning & development professionals, communications professionals, strategy/operations professionals, c-suite executives, etc.

H. Denison’s Competitors (non pure plays): While the focus of this article is on cultural improvement pure play vendors (those firms that were founded upon and primarily focused on, corporate cultural improvement) Denison considers it closest competitors to be McKinsey, Gallup, Glint.

Lastly, Dension has a really interesting book out titled “Leading Culture Change in Global Organizations” written by Daniel Denison, Robert Hooijberg, Nancy Lane and Colleen Lief.

Denison's Cultural Change Book
Denison’s Cultural Change Book

Due to their longevity in the market with both the consulting and technology solutions, combined with their proven ability to service large/multinational corporations, Denison is a vendor to definitely consider and watch.

A special thank you to Dan Denison, Chairman and Founding Partner of Denison and Nabil Sousou, VP of Global Business Development at Denison, for supplying the above chart and for agreeing to be interviewed for this article!

On a side note, some consultants have noted that CultureTalk and Denison can actually be used together and are complimentary to each other, but I have not validated this claim.

Two Other non-pure play Culture Accelerator tools to consider beyond CultureIQ, CultureTalk and Denison are DISC and MBTI (also listed alphabetically):

4. DISC:

DISC started out as a tool to help define communication types within an organization and how to best communicate with different communication styles.  During a recent partner conference, DISC announced they are now applicable for assessing culture and more in-line with the trend of helping organizations figure out and improve their culture. At the time of writing this blog, the DISC website is proportionally under-representing cultural assessment and improvement vs. CultureTalk, CultureIQ, Denison as these are solely focused on corporate culture, what I call “Culture Pure Play Companies”. Just a mismatch of capabilities and website? Not sure, you decide. I would say if you already use DISC as a tool for communication type assessment, I could see using it as an extension for cultural analysis, improvement, etc.

Advantages of DISC: Clear definition of communication styles and how best to foster cultural communication improvement.

Disadvantages of DISC: Lack of overall organizational assessment out of the box that is driven by an organizational assessment, survey, etc. as is the case with CultureTalk, CultureIQ and Denison.


5. MBTI – Myers-Briggs®:

Myers-Briggs® is a survey based system that defines individual types of team members and leaders as well as defining what they call function pairs. The cultural discovery comes when Myers-Briggs® function pairs are then mapped to cultural patterns within an organization and common organization cultural practices. Here are the 4 cultural pairs as shown from the Myers-Briggs website (

  • Sensing plus Thinking (ST) – STs tend to approach life and work in an objective and analytical manner, and like to focus on realities and practical applications in their work. They are often found in careers that require a technical approach to things, ideas, or people, and tend to be less interested in careers that require nurturing of others or attending to their growth and development. STs are often found in business, management, banking, applied sciences, construction, production, police, and the military.

  • Sensing plus Feeling (SF) – SFs tend to approach life and work in a warm people-oriented manner, liking to focus on realities and hands-on careers. They are often found in human services and in careers that require a sympathetic approach to people. They tend to be less interested in careers that require an analytical and impersonal approach to information and ideas. SFs are often found in the clergy, teaching, health care, child care, sales and office work, and personal services.

  • Intuition plus Feeling (NF) – NFs tend to approach life and work in a warm and enthusiastic manner, and like to focus on ideas and possibilities, particularly “possibilities for people.” They are often found in careers that require communication skills, a focus on the abstract, and an understanding of others. They tend to be less interested in careers that require an impersonal or technical approach to things and factual data. NFs are often found in the arts, the clergy, counseling and psychology, writing, education, research, and health care.

  • Intuition plus Thinking (NT) – NTs tend to approach life and work in a logical and objective manner, and like to make use of their ingenuity to focus on possibilities, particularly possibilities that have a technical application. They are often found in careers that require an impersonal and analytical approach to ideas, information and people, and they tend to be less interested in careers that require a warm, sympathetic, and hands-on approach to helping people. NTs are often found in the sciences, law, computers, the arts, engineering, management, and technical work.

Advantages of Myers-Briggs: Detailed profiling of individual traits which can be mapped to organizational cultural patterns.

Disadvantages of Myers-Briggs: Lack of overall organizational assessment out of the box that is driven by an organizational assessment, survey, etc. as is the case with CultureTalk, CultureIQ and Denison .

Below is a grid that summarizes the information I was able to learn about each of the above five (5) vendors:

Culture Top 5 Tool/Vendor Capability Chart

Culture Top 5 Tool/Vendor Capability Chart

8. Five (5) ways to get started, pilot some smaller and cost effective programs

As with any quick-wins program, I always advocate letting the cultural analysis and identification of high priority needs drive which program you decide to use as a cultural improvement jump-start. The five suggestions below should only be selected based on company cultural analysis to determine which of the five are appropriate (or not). These example simply illustrate that getting started can be easy, inexpensive and designed to drive early company/employee excitement. Once this excitement and enthusiasm for cultural improvement is secured, a  larger cultural improvement program becomes easier to implement due to having some excited cultural change advocates on-board.

  • Conduct round-table meetings with employees, customers, suppliers, etc. to determine where quick-hit and east fix cultural improvements can be made. Surveys also work and are cost effective.

  • Complimentary to #1 above, take a pulse on, and measure, the company culture via some of the new tools that are available in the marketplace (per section 7 above) – you can’t fix what you haven’t quantified.

  • Implement some simple recognition programs that reward employees for going the extra mile. At GE under Jack Welch, I was part of a “tiger team” that developed and implemented a program called RAVE which stood for Recognition Award for Valued Employees. We would recognize people and teams for contributions above and beyond their normal duties.

  • Implement on-ramp participation programs that enable employees, customers, stakeholders excited and feeling more like their opinions and thoughts count. One recent example I recall was when we developed a new product and, instead of keeping the decision with the branding team, we turned into a contest for all employees to name the new product. The top 3 would be recognized with an award and a photo in the company news letter.  Another way to do this is developing customer feedback and idea programs to enable your customers to have a voice in the company, brand, marketing, etc. For example, Wells Fargo and many other banks now vets many of its product and marketing concepts through a customer feedback group prior to launch in order to increase market acceptance. These are all great examples of relatively low cost, high impact programs that can be developed to help start improving the company’s culture.

  • There are a number of other programs that can be implemented that are also low cost, but mean a great deal to employees. Here are some simple suggestions:

  • Invite a dry cleaner to come on-site one day a week so that employees can bring their dry cleaning to work to save time

  • Conduct periodic “bring your (child, dog, relative, significant other, etc.) to work” days

  • Hold contests that allow employees to showcase their talents outside of work (art day, sports accomplishment day, writers spotlight, etc.)

  • Hold vendor showcase days, allowing employees to buy from vendors onsite or nearby (craft vendor days, tool days, artisan days, gourmet food vendor days, food truck days, sporting equipment days, etc.)


In summary, corporate culture improvement doesn’t have to cost a great deal, can start slowly, can now be measured and the return on investment is generally in multiples (2-10x+) of the cost. Without a great company culture you will be unable to acquire and retain great employees, will have more costly sales and marketing efforts, have distrusting and unenthusiastic employees and you will experience a great deal of dissatisfied customer churn due to constantly eroding customer loyalty. With all this being true, there is no excuse to not actively work on creating the best company culture possible?!

Lastly, if your organization is seeking experienced assistance in measuring and improving your corporate culture, then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or

Lastly, this is just one article of 40+ total I have written on Customer strategy, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 121,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here:

*Vendor Ratings Disclaimer
Mr. Jeffes does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in this blog article, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Mr. Jeffes’ research based blogs consist of the opinions of Mr. Jeffes’ research to the best of his ability and time constraints and should not be construed as statements of fact. Mr. Jeffes disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Mr. Jeffes’ research and brand may not be used to endorse a vendor, product or service, or to criticize another company. Forbidden use includes recopying text, graphs or reports in their entirety, or excepted without express written permission. All excerpts must be lifted verbatim, in their entirety, and appear accurately with all relevant context. Paraphrasing is not allowed. This article represents Mr. Jeffes’ viewpoint only and is open to listening to other viewpoints and research based input. Mr. Jeffes is not responsible for oversights, omissions, inadvertent typos and other mistakes that might have occurred in the development of this article.

World-Class Sales Processes & Methodologies – Insights into How to Achieve Sales Process Excellence


World-Class Sales Process

World-Class Sales Process

What you will quickly learn in this blog article:

  • The value and ROI of having a world-class sales process.

  • The top 10 benefits to having a clearly articulated sales process and associated methodology.

  • The specific components & elements within each detailed sales process that enables the sales team to maximize their effectiveness.

  • Sample sales metrics that should be collected as part of an overall sales process.

  • How a sales process helps align corporate communications and actions toward winning each and every sale.

  • How to infuse sales best practices right into your sales process at every stage of the sales cycle.

  • How to ensure all levels of the sales teams actions are coordinated in terms of communications, hand-offs, approvals, sales readiness, etc.

  • How a leading practices sales process will actually ensure that you deliver an optimum customer experience where customers will buy more and become loyal.

  • How a best practice based sales methodology will ensure your sales team is fully accountable for results and for the sales funnel.

  • Why a sales process can make it easier to on-board, train and retain a high performing sales team.

  • What critical sales process steps you can be automated once the sales process is fully developed and why sales automation alone (out of the box) won’t deliver sales process excellence.

  • How you can leverage artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA) to offload mundane, lower value tasks from the sales team.

  • Proven and effective sales best practices I have diffused at various Fortune 500 company clients.


B) The Top 10 Reasons Developing & Maintaining a World-Class Sales Process is valuable for you and your company:

  1. Holds Sales Team Staff and Management Accountable

By having performance measures and toll gates baked right into the overall sales process, you can hold team members accountable for reaching select performance levels at each phase of the sales process


  1. Provides a clear & proven path for sales reps to close deals.

By having clearly defined best practice based steps and milestones that guide sales team members, from prospecting to proposal presentation, your company can avoid losing sales deals due to disorganization.

  1. Increases sales organization collaboration & synergy

World-class sales processes contain within them the definition of your entire sales communication process including the roles of each department supporting the sales process. This feature of the sales process definition ensures everyone is on the same page and collaborating and communicating at each critical juncture of the sales process to ensure the sale is won.

  1. Enables more efficient and effective on-boarding of new sales members

A standardized sales process makes training sales reps fast, simple, and nearly foolproof, by showing salespeople what they need to do in various sales situations without having to tie up the sales manager in the (re) training process. In addition, when the entire sales team is following the same road-map, any member of the existing sales team can pass on their knowledge and guidance to new hires.


  1. Provides the ability to constantly improve sales processes and methods.

Successful sales teams continuously refine their sales processes based on the collection of measurable data and constant feedback that will be built right into any world-class sales process. For example, understanding where most of your sales deals are getting bogged down or lost can help you identify the root cause of why those deals were stalled or lost and take steps to re-engineer the sales process. Without a process in place, deals are simply won or lost, and it’s hard to know which specific actions are succeeding or failing.

  1. Delivers better forecasting with higher predictability of sales and revenue.

A repeatable sales process provides sales teams with greater consistency in winning deals. Having a more accurate sense of your overall sales win rate enables your company to dependably forecast how many sales you’ll close from a given number of leads, and helps sales managers set realistic team member sales quotas.

  1. Drives more qualified leads, increased lifetime value, revenue and profitability

A well honed sales process also enables your sales team to be more effective at filtering out low-potential leads and identifying prospects that are most likely to purchase your product. Generating greater volumes of higher-quality leads shortens your sales cycle and reduces the effort wasted on lower probability sales deals.  This also ensures that your sales team focuses its efforts on the activities that deliver the most revenue and the highest levels of profitability.

  1. Enables improved communication between sales and supporting teams.

By having your sales team speaking a common company language (vs. sales specific) it can enable better collaboration among sales team members and with supporting company departments. A standardized best practice sales process contains common steps and common language that delivers simplified inter-company communication, reduces inter-departmental confusion, and enables your accounting, customer service, fulfillment, and marketing teams to provide the right sales actions and content at the right time. The following chart is an example of developing a framework for how various sales team members communicate, share and update information, etc.

Sales Organization Roles, Responsibilities, Communications

Sales Organization Roles, Responsibilities, Communications


         9. Provides greater measurement of sales team performance

When a sales team has no standardized sales process to follow, it is difficult to measure anything except for wins and losses. A standardized sales process has built into it more data measurement points at each phase of the sales process, allowing for deeper analysis of key sales performance metrics and targets.

        10. Delivers a better overall customer experience.

When a sales representative pressures a prospect into a sales stage they are not comfortable with, it can create mistrust, which can negate the sale and damage the relationship with the buyer. A standardized sales process ensures that sales team members and managers do not advance the sale until the prospect is ready to move forward.  A best practice sales process also is designed to reflect how each prospect (customized via prospect analytics and profiling) would want to move through the buying process, and making sure each step is designed (customized) to generate maximum trust and value. In this manner the sales process enables sales teams to deliver an optimum and positive customer experience during each sales phase.


C) Global Sales Major Process Definition

World-Class Sales Process Framework

World-Class Sales Process Framework

The above is a sanitized version of the highest level sales process architecture I developed for a global consumer products company. This “level 1” foundation sales process architecture depicts the major processes and supporting processes for the overall company sales process. Each of these major process modules will each be further broken down in detail until the actual process steps, procedures and policies are of sufficient detail that they can be clearly followed by all sales stakeholders (sales manages, sales team members, departments supporting the sales team, senior management, etc.).

Level 2 Process Flow, Sales Planning & Forecasting

Level 2 Process Flow, Sales Planning & Forecasting

D) Sales Process Detailed Definition – Responsibilities and Major Processes

Breaking down the major 1.0 level sales process, we flow into the next level of detail for the S.1.0 process which is “Planning and Forecasting” for sales.

Level 2 / 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

Level 2 / 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

Within the “Planning and Forecasting” module we depicted the major coordination and communications that occur with this Level 2 process. The horizontal subdivisions (a.k.a. swim lanes) shows a high level breakdown of responsibilities within the sales organization and between the various functions, regions, etc.   This was important for this client since it mapped out who did what and at what level to end up with either a new or revised sales forecast.

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

E) Sales Process Detailed Definition – Steps, Decision Support, KPIs, Best Practices, Key Metrics

Using the “Updated Forecast” process as an example, we then show the level 3 detail of this sales process.

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

As shown above, typically a level 3 or 4 process flow contains the sales process detail for it to be actionable by the sales team and supporting team (accounting, IT, fulfillment, product management, customer service, etc.).

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast : Specific Elements

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast : Specific Elements Detailed

F) Detailed Sales Process – Definition of each step & components:

Let’s examine each of the 4 major elements of this level 3.0 process flow titled “Update Forecast”.

The first element we examine is the flow from another detailed process step,  “Review Period to Date Results”,  that has a number of inputs that into this process step “Update Forecast” at the Division level that include (sample) the following sales period to date information:

  • Projected sales volume vs. actual results

  • Sales representatives goals vs. actual results

  • # of closed sales deals and at risk-deals vs. planned

  • Profitability per deal vs. target

  • Total revenue and profit for all cumulative sales deals vs. target

Sales Process Step 1 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast
Sales Process Step 1 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

The 1st process element we examine is the examination and decision based on actual vs. planned period to date sales KPIs as follows:

  • Are we maintaining an upward linear growth rate as planned

  • Previous year same month sales vs. current month

  • Overall sales generated sales velocity ($$ per day, week, month) deltas

Sales Process Step 2 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 2 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

If key sales planned period to date KPIs are at risk based on a certain threshold, we move to the 2nd element where we update a number of pre-determined KPIs that are critical to ensuring we have an accurate sales forecast. In this sample, my client decided that these are as follows (sample):

  • Sales targets

  • Key sales assumptions (totals and per deal)

  • Sales benchmarks (top performance vs. average vs. lagging)

  • Sales process (i.e. adjust at-risk deal processes to match on the ground situations for each deal)

  • Sales team accountability plans (adjust according to 1-4 above).

Sales Process Step 2A Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 2A Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

If they are not at major risk, we might update a few smaller parameters and then move onto process step 2A.

Sales Process Step 3 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 3 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

The 3rd process element we examine is the examination and decision based on sales project results for period end KPIs as follows (sample):

  • Are lead flow projected rates at previously forecast levels?

  • Are the numbers of late stage sales deals on track to close in the period end (monthly for my client)?

  • Based on the deals closing in #2 above, does the aggregate revenue for those deals match the projected forecast for period end?

  • Specific to this process step, we have an embedded best practice “BP”. This best practice details that if pipeline coverage of sales representatives drops below 85%, an automated process (with its own set of best practice procedures), kicks off titled “Recovery Plan S.1.0” that will return coverage of pipeline to 100%.

Sales Process Step 4 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 4 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

If key sales project results for period end KPIs are at risk based on a certain threshold, we move to the 4th element where we simply update the key sales projections and KPIs based on investigating and validating actual sales actions, feedback, roadblocks, prospect and customer actions, etc. These include (small sample of actual client metrics) the following:

  1. At-risk deals (#’s, specific names, assigned representatives, etc.)

  2. Top deal watch list (revenue and margin #’s, names/clients, roadblocks, action plan status, etc.)

  3. Low sales performer watch list (names, action plans, mentor-ships, etc.)

Sales Process Step 4A Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 4A Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

If there are no major risks, we might update a few smaller parameters and then move onto process step 4A where we simply exit this process and enter another downstream process. 

Sales Process Step G (Global Process Best Practices) Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step G (Global Process Best Practices) Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

A global element in this update forecast process is the embedded best practices that have been developed as a result of evolving the sales process continuously. These include (small sample):

  • Flagging the top 5 (based on revenue, important to company) at-risk sales deals.

  • Performing a weekly review of at-risk sales deals and coming up with an action plan for each, taking into account any sales process changes made above in element 3, step 4).

  • Updating the following metrics, key for sales management visibility:

  1. Number of at-risk deals weekly, monthly, YOY, etc.

  2. The success ratio of closed top deals vs. top deals lost.

  3. Average sales cycle duration & actual sales representative time spent selling.

Other Key sales metrics for the overall sales process to consider:

  1. Overall sales win rate.

  2. Average deal size.

  3. Lead average follow-up time. (The time a lead is received until a sale representative follows-up)

  4. Sales by lead source (important marketing to sales metric).

  5. Quota achievement % total and by sales representative.

  6. Based on a-c (and more) above, what are the action plans and automated workflows that need to be created to enact updated performance plan metrics?

 G) Sales Process Automation:

There is a huge difference between sales automation and sales process automation. Just because you purchased leading tools like Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle, Zoho, etc. does not mean it will conform or deliver a highly automated sales process right out of the box. These tools can be customized to accommodate the automation of your sales process, but will take additional $$, effort and potentially additional licenses that you may not have accounted for in the initial expenditure of funds and resources. This step is as important as purchasing the package since without easy to use functionality and processes that aid the sales effort, the tool will be considered more of a hindrance that a help.

You will also need to automate your sales process via a number of other supporting tools that salesforce automation software packages are not optimized for out of the box such as the following:

  • E-mail process automation like triggered responses to new lead inquiries or automated bots on the website to interact and respond to simple initial inquiries.

  • Report generation being triggered based on system parameters, timing and critical thresholds being reached. Add on packages like Adobe, Tableau, Microstrategy, Oracle BI, SAS, Sisense, etc. all are great packages that can be added to bring additional horsepower to your sales analytics and reporting capabilities.

  • Artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA) can aid in the performance of sales tasks such as lead distribution, auto-populating CRM systems via intelligent voice capture and data mining following a phone sales call.

  • Pipeline & Order Management – tools like Vendasta can help automate the management of your pipeline and order management.

H) Other Sales Best Practices to Kick Your Sales Volume & Success into Overdrive:

While these are not related to the above sales process per say, I have included these as they are sales related and **some** clients choose to implement these practices, processes:

  • Analyze sales rainmaker activities & behavior and then replicate their best practices back into the overall sales process, training, activities, sales approaches. In this manner good sales reps move up to rainmaker performance, average sales reps move up to good performance, etc. I did this for a major U.S. insurance company a few years ago and it improved their overall sales performance by 32%!

  • Develop a referral incentive system with your existing customers as existing customer referrals are likely to close 50+% of the time, with strong personal referrals with testimonials likely to close at 80+%. Compare this to warm leads at <30% and cool leads at <15%. I did this as the SVP of Operations at a startup and it catapulted our sales from <$1m to over $3m in just 8 months.

  • Develop a network of complimentary re-sellers (a.k.a. channel sellers) of your services where the products and/or services you sell are complimentary to the re-sellers normal line business. For example, a firm that sells cultural improvement and/or leadership development services should be seeking out an HR consulting firm to resell their services since the HR firm is uncovering these needs on a regular basis with generally nowhere to turn for servicing unearthed client needs. The HR consulting firm would then net a commission (5-10%) for merely opening the door to the new sales opportunity for the leadership development firm. Analogous to this on the web is affiliate sales and marketing. 

  • Invite satisfied customers to participate in the brand: guest blogger, posting testimonials, reviewing new concepts, products and/or services, participating on a Customer Advisory Board (e.g. top customers), etc. Studies have shown that the more they are invited to participate in the brand’s success, the more likely they are to share your brand’s success.

  • Let your existing customers know about your sales wins: The more your customers see you succeed and the strides your are making in the marketplace, the more likely they are to share these positive news stories. Examples: xyz company is winning contracts left and right, they must be doing something right, xyz is on fire, xyz services are selling like hotcakes, etc.

Related to the above topic, does your organization need consulting assistance developing and implementing a world-class sales process or any of the following: associated services?

  • Replicating the processes and behavior of your sales rainmakers to the rest of the sales team?

  • Infusing a set of sales cross-industry leading practices in your existing sales process?

  • Developing a best practice sales measurement and metric system?

  • Automating the sales process to offload the non-value sales tasks from your sales team so they can focus on meeting with prospects/customers and closing deals?

  • Investigate how to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to sharpen your sales insights, targeting, lead generation flow, etc.?

If so, give me a call, I call help you implement sales process excellence that will  enable you to surpass your competition and bring your organization to the next level of sales performance and revenue.

Lastly, this is just one article of nearly 50 total I have written on Customer strategy, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 120,000+ world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here:

Tools & Techniques to Ensure Alignment of Corporate Activities and Initiatives with Overall Company Strategic Objectives

  1. Are your employees focused on driving toward your strategic objectives, day after day, week after week, quarter over quarter? Or are they focused on lesser important tactical tasks that don’t always support these strategic objectives?

  2. Can you specify which percentages of your team’s activities are spent working toward your strategic goals vs. the percent spent on tactical, non-strategic objectives?

  3. Do you have a set of tools to easily and simply track progress toward completion of strategic objectives, down to the initiative, project, and task?

  4. Do you have a set of world-class program and project management tools to leverage to ensure organizational alignment with company priorities?

If you answered “No” or I don’t know to any of the above questions, the rest of this blog is dedicated toward helping you get to “Yes” for all of the above 4 questions in 4 easy steps (my “4-in-4” delivery promise).

Develop and Prioritize Top Strategic Company Objectives

Develop and Prioritize Top Strategic Company Objectives


STEP 1 – Develop and Prioritize Top Strategic Company Objectives

Above is a set of strategic objectives I helped develop for a financial services client who was struggling with customer loyalty and experiencing higher than standard customer defection rates to their competitors.  Through a series of interviews, workshops and visioning sessions, we arrived at the top four (4) strategic CRM objectives above and then mapped out the major customer interaction outlets (a.k.a. touch-points) in order to map the stakeholder groups that would be involved in helping my client achieve these four strategic objectives.

Map Top Strategic Company Objectives to both Functional Areas and to Supporting Major Initiatives

Map Top Strategic Company Objectives to both Functional Areas and to Supporting Major Initiatives


STEP 2 – Map Top Strategic Company Objectives to both Functional Areas and to Supporting Major Initiatives

The next step in the process was to map the customer interaction outlets shown on the previous slide and then perform the following:

  • Overlay the stakeholder groups (shown on the outer part of the above diagram) that will be involved in helping achieve each of the four strategic initiatives shown in the center.

  • Map the strategic objectives that each of the stakeholder groups would be involved with implementing (i.e. bulleted items “Customer Information Profiles”, “Customer Needs Fulfillment”, etc.)

  • Develop a program and project plan with required resources from:

  1. From outside the company (consulting),

  2. From each of the stakeholder groups (subject matter experts, project liaisons, etc.)

  3. Technology Purchases

  4. Sourcing Agreements

  5. etc., etc.

Map Top Strategic Company Objectives to Supporting Major Initiatives, Projects and Activities

Map Top Strategic Company Objectives to Supporting Major Initiatives, Projects and Activities


STEP 3 – Map Top Strategic Company Objectives to Supporting Major Initiatives, Projects and Activities

The next step in the process is to develop a mapping from Strategic Objectives to the Supporting Initiatives and the projects/activities that support these major initiatives. It is important to develop a unique coding system (or Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)) for each strategic objective, major supporting imitative, project and activities within each project so they can be tracked within a time management system. Here is an example as partially illustrated in the above diagram.

WBS Level 1: Strategic Objective 4 = “Correct Action, Correct Time, Correct Customer”;

    WBS Level 2: Initiative 1 Supporting Objective 4 = 4CR1 or “Customer      Referrals”

      WBS Level 3: Project 1 Supporting Customer Referrals =                  xxxxx 4CRCCIFG1, “Conduct Customer Incentive Focus Group”

          WBS Level 4: Activity 1 Supporting Conduct Customer Incentive                Focus Group = 4CRCCIFG1A1, “Determine Focus Group                                  Participants”

Once you have determined the entire work breakdown structure for all strategic initiatives, tracked to initiatives, project and all activities, down to the 4th level (i.e. 4CRCCIFG1A1), you can then load these into your time management system to track how much time is being spent on these strategic objectives & tasks vs. all other time management tasks.

Related to the above topic, does your organization need world-class and experienced assistance with any of the following?:

  • Determining your next strategic direction?

  • Setting prioritized strategic goals?

  • Driving organizational efficiency?

  • Ensuring corporate strategic initiatives are aligned with current projects, activities and tasks?

If so, give me a call, I call help you achieve world-class strategic programs that enable you to surpass your competition and bring your organization to the next level of strategic goal development and attainment.

Lastly, this is just one article of 40+ total I have written on Customer strategy, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 160,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here:

Marketing Performance Improvement (MPI) & Sharpening the Marketing Saw for Marketing Leaders, CMOs

Continuous Marketing Process Assessment &amp; Improvement

Continuous Marketing Process Assessment & Improvement

  1. Are you as a CxO so focused on the tasks at hand that you don’t take the time to re-group and assess what is working and not working? Likewise, are you too focused to take the time to determine what in your operations is effective and what corrective action is needed on a ongoing, consistent basis?

  2. Are you “operations bound” whereby your team members are out of bandwidth due to barely keeping up with ongoing marketing, sales, communications and PR production schedules?

  3. Do you find the company getting further and further behind competitors capabilities, effectiveness, market presence as well as sales volume?

  4. Are you behind on learning the latest capabilities and advances in digital asset management, marketing & content management artificial intelligence (AI), and how block-chain can help your effectiveness?

  5. Per question #4 do you know how these advances can improve the effectiveness in your marketing, sales, PR, communications while simultaneously increasing profitable revenue while simultaneously reducing your operating costs?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you are really in need of a Marketing Process Improvement (MPI) initiative and an infusion of a ‘Saw Sharpening” process. The benefit of implementing this continuous improvement process is that your company will increase the chance that it will evolve into the envy of the marketplace in terms of team leadership, capabilities and overall market effectiveness.

The remainder of this blog is a short primer and motivator in getting your company to consider becoming a ‘Saw Sharpening’ organization focused on improving profitability, market share and overall shareholder value improvement.

Marketing Capability Tier Evolution

Marketing Capability Tier Evolution

Complimentary to the first set of questions above:

  1. Have you mapped out how capable your company is in terms of marketing, customer management, sales, etc. such that you can accurately place your company into a capability level as shown in the above chart?

  2. Have you created an evolutionary road-map in order to mature your organization into a more capable and effective organization over time (i.e. lower expenses and increase profitable revenue) in order to leapfrog your competition and gain market share?

Can you accurately assess your competitor(s) capabilities such that you know where they are better than your company and in which specific areas?

Sharpening the Marketing Saw to Transform to attain Intelligent Marketing Enterprise (IME) (i.e. Capabilities, Efficiencies, Effectiveness)

Sharpening the Marketing Saw to Transform to attain Intelligent Marketing Enterprise (IME) (i.e. Capabilities, Efficiencies, Effectiveness)

The last set of questions are associated with answering whether you are aware of the entire landscape of capability improvement initiatives available to assist your company’s marketing, customer management, sales, PR and communications (refer to above chart). These questions are as follows:

  • Are you aware that business rules engine technology can help you automate your marketing campaign management process such that marketers do not have to be as manually involved (i.e. campaign set up, execution and post campaign results analysis)? This technology will save your company time and $$ by allowing your marketers to focus on all important marketing strategy vs. being ‘campaign jockeys’ and marketing production focused most of their time.

  • Are you aware that powerful and real-time analytic engines can help with channel mix optimization such that you are marketing to the most effective and cost efficient customer channel at all times?

  • Are you aware that leading Digital Asset Management (DAM) tools now have artificial intelligence baked right in as to help you manage, find and retrieve your digital assets across marketing, PR, sales, communications, etc. – all saving you time and enabling your content to be more compelling to your customers?

  • Associated with question #3, are you really aware of the benefits of Digital Asset Management (DAM) tools and how it can help you go to market more effectively and cost efficiently?

If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, then you are not performing adequate MPI or ‘saw sharpening’ to improve your performance longer-term. As an example of what you might be missing in not performing MPI and marketing saw sharpening, I laid out the benefits of adopting Digital Asset Management (DAM) tools which not only helps the marketing department, but also PR, communications, sales, etc. (Don’t read ahead and let me know if you were able to guess all 7 benefits of a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution):

  1. Eliminates the cost of lost or misplaced digital assets. DAM virtually eliminates the costs associated with losing valuable digital assets due to the robust and highly organized digital asset repository (via a highly logical DAM taxonomy) which enables marketers to find and (re)use digital assets quickly.

  2. Reduces creative production development cycle times. DAM tools help users quickly create and re-purpose digital assets.

  3. Reduces the time to bring new campaigns to market. Marketers, sales, PR, communication, etc. are able to get campaign related digital out to various markets and customers at the ‘speed of need’.

  4. Eliminates duplication of work. The central asset repository that DAM provides greatly reduces the possibility of costly asset duplication.

  5. Improves collaboration and access to critical assets. DAM tools facilitate collaboration among marketers via a centralized control of digital assets.

  6. Ensures brand consistency and brand integrity.Ensures marketers, sales, PR, communication, etc. have access to the most up-to-date digital assets as opposed to users being allowed to select non brand compliant assets.

  7. Improves Marketing ROI: Enables marketers, sales, PR, communication, etc to use the most effective digital assets that will produce the greatest impact and ROI.

If you answered “yes” to some of my first set of questions and “no” to many of the 2nd and 3rd set of questions and missed the some of the benefits associated with DAM tools, then you are a prime candidate to infuse an MPI or marketing (or overall) saw sharpening process into your company. Based on having helped numerous Fortune 500 companies establish this continuous improvement mindset, approach and process, I suggest the following:

  1. Honestly assess whether your team feels as though your company is as capable as it needs to be – processes not too manual, error prone, ineffective, lagging as compared to competitors, wrong approach and strategy, inefficient tactics, etc.

  2. Set time aside each week for team saw sharpening activities and to discuss initiatives you need to implement to improve capabilities and overall effectiveness.

  3. Benchmark your performance in certain areas like e-mail open and click through rates, sales $$ per campaign, campaign cycle time and/or accuracy, Google ad-words performance, etc., net promoter score(s) and constantly challenge the team to improve incrementally as well as dramatically after the implementation of new capabilities.

  4. Hire an honest, impartial outside consultant to independently assess your capabilities and benchmark these capability areas against market leaders.

  5. Leverage a consultant to help you develop an evolution roadmap over 2-5 years for your company to attain market leader status including business case with investment and capability implementation plan.

Is your organization planning on launching a new brand or optimizing an existing one? If so, give me a call or e-mail me, I can help you implement a MPI or ‘Saw Sharpening’ process that would enable you to surpass your competition and bring your organization or agency to the next level of market effectiveness and excellence.

This is just one article of 42 total I have written on Customer strategy, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, organization excellence & change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 158,000+ world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here:

Brand Management 101 Primer for Non-Marketing/Brand Senior Executives (CEOs, COOs, CSOs, CHROs, CFOs, CIOs, etc.)


The Brand Process Life-Cycle

The Brand Process Life-Cycle

The Brand Process Life-Cycle

The Brand Process Life-Cycle

During my career non-brand professionals and executives have asked me privately what the brand life-cycle looks like from a 50,000 foot level (a.k.a. a simplified elevator pitch version). I finally sat down the other day to map this life-cycle process out and the above chart is the simplified (level 0) representation of this process. I am calling this my brand management primer 101 for non-brand and marketing executives (CFOs, CSOs, CHROs, CIOs, etc.). The overall process consists of four (4) major life-cycle stages as follows:

  1. Plan the Brand – Plan the brand such that both quantitative and qualitative brand goals are achieved

  2. Position the Brand – Ensure the brand is positioned well in terms of market, competitors, customers, prospects, etc.

  3. Deliver the brand promise – Deliver upon the expectations of the brand in terms of stakeholders, regulators, customers, brand interested, etc.

  4. Analyze the Brand – Determine if the brand is reaching its intended goals in #1 above

For each of the phases above, I included a sample objective (one of many) for each phase. These objectives while similar across many companies, the specifics objectives would be tailored for each individual company.  The important thing to remember with the above is that the life-cycle processes need to be constantly reviewed and enhanced over time utilizing a continuous improvement process approach and methodology.

Included in the above graphic is a sampling of analysis techniques for each lifecycle phase. When the process lifecycle details are determined, the analysis and ‘health check’ metrics would also be determined in order to continually gauge the overall progress of the brand toward a set of goals and objectives.

For those more analytically inclined and as an example, we might decide to use a time series or multivariate analysis in determining the marketing effectiveness on the brand(s) in the “Analyze the Brand” phase. On the other hand, a time series analysis would be used to help illuminate brand trends, issues and opportunities in historical data over a period of time as well as be used to predict future values based on previously observed values. For example, it can be used to illustrate the brand decline curve of defecting customers beyond the time that a brand is first launched as to predict the rate of decline into the future for use in projecting future revenues.

Brand Health Analysis Techniques

Brand Health Analysis Techniques

The chart above highlights two of the brand analysis techniques mentioned in the previous graphic, that being the Brand Pyramid (Health) Analysis (also commonly referred to as the brand funnel analysis if viewed from bottom to top) and the Brand Pyramid Conversion Analysis. This is meant as an overview, the next graphic takes a deep dive into each analysis technique. The key to the above chart are the questions to the left of each section as these a key in determining overall brand health.

Brand Pyramid (Strength) Analysis

Brand Pyramid (Strength) Analysis

The above chart illustrates the Brand Pyramid (strength) analysis and is sometimes also referred to as the brand health funnel analysis. In this consumers are queried about a set of questions regarding the brand. In order to qualify for the next level query, the consumer must have answered “yes” to ALL of the previous, lower level questions. For example, a consumer would need to “buy” the product to be able to “use” and only then would they be able to rate how well “satisfied with” they are with the brand (products/services).

In a perfect world, the pyramid would look more like a square with 100% of people going from “aware” all the up to “pay premium”, but the above represents the real life pyramid and what real brand analysis results typically look like.

Brand Pyramid Conversion Analysis

Brand Pyramid Conversion Analysis

The above brand pyramid conversion analysis measures the brand health slightly differently in that these are the conversion rates of audiences at each level of the brand pyramid.  To use an example, if 100 people were queried about the brand, a full 93.5% were aware of it. Of that 93.5%, 89.5% were familiar. Of the 89.5% that were familiar, only 83.5% (or 69.8 on previous chart) had a high opinion of the brand. This analysis reveals that, while people were familiar with the brand, many didn’t think very highly of the brand due to some negative perception that will need to be determined for root cause(s) (i.e. pricing, quality, warranty, features, etc.).

Is your organization planning on launching new brand or optimizing an existing one? If so, give me a call, I call help you achieve world-class brand programs that enable you to surpass your competition and bring your organization or agency to the next level of brand management excellence.

Lastly, this is just one article of 40 total I have written on Customer strategy, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 158,000+ world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here:


Developing an Enterprise Level Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Strategy & Road-map

Enterprise CRM Strategy Development Framework

Enterprise Customer & CRM Strategy Development Framework

The chart above is a framework I have used to guide the development and future operational model of a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy and roadmap for a large multi-national company. This framework is comprised of the following major components that must be taken into account in developing a customer strategy & roadmap (from bottom to top) :

  1. Major customer segments that exist comprise the foundation of the framework. These need to be taken into consideration as the major customer stakeholders that either are in place, or need to be defined as part of the future-state strategy.

  2. The customer channel content that exists and will be needed moving forward once the major customer segments have been determined.

  3. The partner matrix and partner relationship model that exists and will be needed – types of partners, partner distribution model, partner communications methods, partner acquisition model, etc.

  4. The current and future customer touch-points specifications – usage, volume, delivery method, cost structure, etc.

  5. Major customer, partner and market insights that exist and that are needed in the future.

  6. The current and needed future state model for customer facing operations and capabilities that exist within each functional area.

  7. The existing and future engagement model that will operate through the customer channels, utilizing the information/insights and channel and customer specific content, etc. – cost structure, automation, key strategies in each (sell in service, one and done customer service, etc.)

  8. Finally the top of the pyramid, the customer and CRM strategy that drives all other structure capabilities and operating models as defined through a series of workshops shown later in this article.


High Level Enterprise CRM Transformation Approach

The chart above is a depiction of the transformation approach I have used to guide the development of the actual CRM strategy shown on the top of the pyramid from the last chart. In this chart we have the following:

  1. Left side, “Synthesize Insights” – Depicts sample insights that need to be gathered and synthesized on the left in order to determine a realistic future state customer strategy and roadmap.

  2. Top, under “CRM Transformation Approach” – The delivery, governance and oversight structures that must oversee and manage the delivery of a final customer strategy and 5+ year roadmap.

  3. Middle, under “CRM Transformation Approach” – The major program phases in the delivery of the future state customer strategy and roadmap as well as the major goals and deliverables from each phase.

  4. Right side, under “Net Positive Impact” – The major positive impacts from the development of a customer strategy and 5+ year roadmap stated in both quantitative measures (via a business case) and qualitative dimensions.


CRM Opportunity Assessment Process

CRM Opportunity Assessment Process

The chart above is the high level process (level 0) I have used to assess the CRM (future-state) opportunities at a large multi-national company. While I start with this CRM process flow to accelerate the delivery of a customer strategy and roadmap, each is tailored to each client situation and set of requirements. This also includes a detailed approach and plan for conducting a series of “CRM Opportunity Assessment Workshops” attended by key executives and stakeholders whereby many of the components listed in the above flowchart are actually defined.

 “To Be”, Future-State CRM Strategy Definition

“To Be”, Future-State CRM Strategy Definition

The chart above details a small sample of the steps details that exist within the “CRM Opportunity Assessment” processes step. In this particular example, we must define the major customer strategies we want moving forward as well as the supporting details to successfully deliver the strategy:

  1. Performance metrics that will be put in place to monitor the success of the overall program once the customer/CRM strategy is implemented

  2. Budget & governance structure that will manage both the implementation of the strategy as well its ongoing operation of the program

  3. Program success criteria for the strategy to be considered a success

  4. Specific programs and projects to deliver the strategy

  5. The stated strategic goals for each defined customer strategy

CRM Strategy & Roadmap Development Process

CRM Strategy & Roadmap Development Process

The chart above is the high level process (level 0) I have used to develop a future operational model of a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy and roadmap for a large multi-national company. I full project plan that includes task dependencies, project critical path, logical sequencing of project tasks, resourcing plan, etc. accompanies the above chart during an actual client project. This also includes a detailed approach and plan for conducting a series of “CRM Definition Workshops” attended by key executives and stakeholders that provide direct input into the future-state CRM strategy & road-map.

Strategic CRM Goals Definition Process

Strategic CRM Goals Definition Process

The chart above highlights the details associated with developing the specific and measurable objectives for a future state CRM & customer strategy. These details are highly variable and need to be tailored based on the specifics associated with the client’s market & requirements, budget, competition, market/customer gaps, etc.

This is just one article of 40+ total I have written on Customer strategy, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.

In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 160,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here:


The Basic S4 (S**4) Building Blocks to Creating and Implementing an Effective Customer Strategy

4S - Customer Strategy Building Blocks

4S – Customer Strategy Building Blocks


The following blog article will succinctly and effectively answer the following questions as related to developing and deploying an effective customer strategy:

  • What are the basic building blocks of an effective customer strategy ecosystem?

  • What is the function of each process in this customer delivery ecosystem?

  • What are the critical questions that must be answered by each function in this ecosystem?

  • How can you develop an effective customer strategy that delivers maximized customer satisfaction simultaneous to maximized profitability?

  • What is the checklist to ensuring your customer strategy and delivery is effective?

The Building Blocks of the Customer Strategy Life Cycle

The Building Blocks of the Customer Strategy Life Cycle


Above are the basic building blocks to delivering an effective customer experience.  Each process is designed to work in an ongoing continuous ecosystem (loop) in order to deliver a personalized customer experience that matches the customer’s current and future needs, preferences, etc.

Let’s examine each process and how it supports the overall infrastructure model.

  • Segment – the analogy for the segment process is that the more and differentiated customer knowledge you have, the better you will be able separate customers into unique needs groups in order to deliver a unique experience that they truly value.

  • Separate – Once you have effectively segmented your customers and prospects into unique needs groups, you can then start to separate them in order to deliver differentiated and 1-on-1 treatments that are uniquely valuable to each of those customer segment groups.

  • Satisfy – The next step in the process is to deliver content and programs that deliver value, not only to the needs of the overall segment group, but also delivers value to every customer sub-segment within the overall segment group via program sub-segment delivery structures. This is accomplished by delivering customized 1-to-1 customer programs that effectively leverage the unique customer insights gathered (history, needs, preferences, likes, dislikes, previous pain points, etc.).

  • Stratify – The last step in this foundational process is to develop program that migrate customers from low value segments to ever increasing higher value segments. The goal of this process to increase customer’s overall spend, overall share of wallet with the company and overall loyalty and brand ‘stickiness’ such that migrating to a competitor and defecting becomes increasingly difficult. In addition, the migration of customer to higher value segments should also increase the customer’s brand advocacy ranking such that there is a correlation between higher value customer segments and their likelihood to be more likely brand super-advocates {see blog on this topic titled “Achieving Market Leadership by Effectively Managing Customer Loyalty and Advocacy ” : Achieving Market Leadership by Effectively Managing Customer Loyalty and Advocacy  }

The 4S Customer Capabilities

The 4S Customer Capabilities


Critical Questions Answered by Each Process in the Above Customer Delivery Ecosystem:

  • Segment – What specific data elements and insights can we leverage or collect to increase our ability to develop unique customer treatment groups.

  • Separate – Which customer groups does it make sense to develop and deliver differentiated treatment strategies based on profitability models?

  • Satisfy – What are the optimal customer treatment strategies that can simultaneously optimize customer profitability, loyalty, brand advocacy and customer growth objectives?

  • Stratify – How do we deliver a progressive and tiered customer program to differentiate ourselves vs. our competitors and grow our market share?

Summary: You might read many complex articles on what a good customer strategy should be based on, but the above basic foundational building blocks are a simple way to start thinking about your customer ecosystem and what corporate capabilities need to be put in place to deliver effective customer and market success.

Change Management Best Practices & World-Class Change Deployment Methodology



Best Practice Change Management Framework


Any change initiative should employ a proven & world-class change management implementation framework


Best Practice Change Management Project Approach & Plan – Define Goals, Obtain Buy-In

Change Management Methodology: Any change initiative should employ a proven & world-class change management implementation framework. Best Practice Steps to Define Change Goals and Obtain Buy-In for the Change


Best Practice Change Management Project Approach & Plan – Design Change Approach

Change Management Methodology: Best Practice Steps to Designing a Solid Change Approach


Best Practice Change Management Project Approach & Plan – Develop and Deploy Change

Change Management Methodology: Best Practice Steps to Developing and Deploying Change


Best Practice Change Management Project Approach & Plan – Deliver Change Results

Change Management Methodology: Best Practice Steps to Delivering Change Results


Management’s Crucial Role In Supporting Change

Management Must Have Clearly Articulated Roles in Facilitating and Supporting any Change


Organizational Change Alignment Possible Outcomes

The graphic above depicts the various change outcomes possible. Following a solid change methodology can ensure the optimal state of “total alignment”


Change Initiative Ranking Analysis Techniques

A best practice change approach includes proven methods and techniques to evaluate potential change initiatives to undertake


Typical & Critical Change Initiative Roles & Organizational Structure

A world-class change approach includes mapping out change roles and delivering sufficient training and role change orchestration. This approach ensures that aspect of the organization is pulling together in synergy on every level following the implementation of the change.


Change Management Initiative Resource Plan

A world-class change approach includes mapping out a change implementation organization including the organizational inter-relationships, special committees and groups as well as specific roles and responsibilities.


The Role of Middle Management in Change Management

A world-class change approach must include middle management inclusion strategies


Managing & Mitigating Organizational Change Resistance

Careful Considerations must be made to anticipate and mitigate change resistance, including from middle management


Executive Support for Change Management

A world-class change approach includes planning how executive support will be applied during any change initiative


Change Management Strategies for Institutionalizing Change

Best practice change methodologies and strategies can mitigate the pitfalls associated with not institutionalizing a change which risks, over time, organizational drift away from the desired change state.

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