PDCA Planning: Determining Customer Touchpoints


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In a recent blog post, Sales and Service Planning with PDCA, I discussed the most basic part of the Sales and Service Cycle, the conversation with the customer. People may struggle viewing this from a market versus a customer perception. Or, they may see how this applies to a B2C relationship but wonder how to apply it to a B2B relationship.

In the Lean world, we organize by Value Streams. Many Lean companies will even organize their support functions having purchasing, internal sales, operations, organized in a work cell. This way knowledge gets shared and acted upon very effectively and efficiently. The problem is that it is seldom extended externally. I have always been an advocate of Applying Cellular Concepts to Sales and Marketing. In that post, I pointed out that I thought work groups should be created based on other premises rather than by geographic regions or specific product lines. I suggested other alternatives such as customer use or more specifically Clayton Christian’s thoughts on the “job to be done,” highlighted in a blog post, Do You Know the Right Job For Your Products? Dave Gray of The Dachis Group recent book, The Connected Company uses Rational Software (now part of IBM) as an example for doing this. From his book:

Rationales goal was very transparent to everyone in the company: “Make customers successful.” Customers were served by small, autonomous pods known as field teams. Each field team operated as a fully functional, standalone unit, with technical and business experts working closely together. The same team that sold a product or project was also responsible for delivering it. Resources were distributed to teams based on their performances.

Separation can also be handled by organizing value streams on the way the customer wants to be handled. – Some want best cost and standardization and others want attention and customization. It is what makes sense for your market. In one case, we were able to use the Lean Terms of SDCA – PDCA – EDCA (Lean A3 for Lean EDCA-PDCA-SDCA) as a way to break out segments.

However, to do this you must understand the Customer Journey and how to map that process discussed in this blog post, Start with Journey Mapping vs Value Stream Mapping. I have found that many companies cannot explain the decision making process of their customers. What I have done initially with clients is take a particular value stream and instead of doing a customer journey map, document the seller (performer/actor) journey with the customer, our front stage actions. We will also add support functions, our back stage performance. After doing that, we will put the reaction of the clients to these steps. Sometimes, we will have left over customer reactions and empty spaces where they is no customer reaction that we know of.

Many will consider that there are too many value streams to consider. We solve this by first organizing around the different value streams. Do a very hi-level map or even just a SIPOC (Supplier-Input-Process- Output-Customer) table. You could end up with 20, 30, 100 different journeys. Apply the Pareto principle ( Does the Juran Trilogy = PDCA?) and map the important ones. Seldom can we map them all. Be good at the 20% that brings 80% of your business and more than likely it will make you better at what you do and the others will benefit.

If you succeed in mapping your primary method to market, you may find that customers within that value stream are surprisingly similar. Another item of note is that most B2B decisions are made by a committee with a few very influential decision makers within that committee. Those touch points or trigger points when the committee forms or meets are a key component. In fact, what happens and the influence the seller has preceding those “events touchpoints” with committee members are the key. If you are unaware of when and how often “event touchpoints” occur, you are at a significant disadvantage.

As we start looking from the PDCA Conversation with a customer, we now have to determine when to have the conversation or the touchpoints of the conversation and who to include. This is done simply through the exercise that I call the Lean Marketing Game.

After creating this customer journey map, you can envision how your sales and marketing cells may work. Chunk the Customer Journey or Value Stream in vertical segments and discuss who will provide value to the conversation. It would not be uncommon to have 1 team or multiple teams such as a pre-purchase team and an after-purchase team. This way the customer’s organization will have access not only to front stage people but back stage. This a key component as organizations that collaborate well together are difficult to separate. As Dave Gray would say, The Connected Company. Dave’s book, I found very “Leanish.”

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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