Empowering Front Line Employees to Personalize Customer Experience
Well-informed customers want to do business with companies that know them and their business needs intimately. Knowledge of the need to personalize the customer experience for savvy customers drove Ferguson to transform its relationship model. By designing a dynamic model based on customer expectations, Ferguson hoped to achieve what these types of projects too often lack – employee buy-in and engagement.
With proven expertise in statistical analysis, Walker used advanced needsbased algorithms to develop a segmentation model for Ferguson that yielded five customer profiles or personas. Ferguson then piloted the new business model in key regional markets. The test market rollout included a comprehensive training and communication plan to successfully integrate the customer personas into the fabric of how the company does business with customers.
Walker’s Hierarchy of Engagement was used as a framework for developing communication and training plans for employees. The first objective was to create awareness among employees. Dedicated time was then spent to make sure employees understood and believed in the initiative.
WITH WALKER’S GUIDANCE, THE COMMUNICATION AND TRAINING PLAN SUPPORTED THE FOLLOWING OBJECTIVES:
- Make employees feel comfortable about business model changes
- Make it easy to understand
- Leverage e-learning, when possible
- Include customer stories/case studies to highlight the benefit of customer personas
THE TRAINING AND COMMUNICATION PLAN TOOLKIT INCLUDED:
- Feet on the street: Regular visits from the Walker and Ferguson customer segmentation team allowed employees to listen, share, and learn – putting them at ease about the business model changes.
- Customer profiles: Presented in easy-to-use dashboard form, profiles incorporated in-depth views of individual customers, segment assignment, specific customer needs, and calls to action. Shared with employees during inperson meetings and e-learning sessions, the dashboard views included ideas for customer talking points and next steps for engaging with customers.
- Messaging to promote employee buy-in: Training and communication emphasized ways employees can use their time with customers more effectively based on the needs-based profiles. Showing employees how the new business model could make their jobs easier and help build their books of business was an important part of the training and helped ensure success.
Employees in the regional test markets embraced the new business model, becoming advocates for the transformation. Success stories illustrating the impact of customer segmentation in the test markets were collected and used in the broader rollout in more regions. Grouping customers based on their needs and expectations allowed Ferguson to take specific actions to improve customer experience. This included resource allocation based on customer expectations, specific customer messaging based on customer needs, and personalized marketing plans.
The bottom line? Ferguson’s financial return on personalizing the customer experience based upon customer needs has been substantial. Test markets implementing the segmentation strategy have seen a significant increase in sales, combined with a lower cost to serve.
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