Chad Mitchell [Posted by Chad Mitchell]

My colleagues and I continue to receive questions from eBusiness managers about prioritization in 2009.

There are 3 common questions:

  • What should we do to survive and succeed?
  • What should we do first?
  • Does my priority list make sense?

Allstate is currently running an ad about getting "Back to Basics." The spot states that "after the fear subsides" people enjoy the small things such as home-cooked meals and time with family. "And the basics are good."

eBusiness and channel managers should follow this logic and focus on the fundamentals.

Here are my thoughts on getting back to the basics in 2009. Call it a honey-do list for eBusiness and channel managers:

  • Focus on retaining profitable customers – In a Q1 2008 Forrester survey of CMO’s (well within the economic downturn), improving customer retention and lifetime value were ranked in the bottom 3 of the top 9 CMO marketing objectives. Amazingly, CMO’s were still focused on acquisition, product development and brand awareness. That is upside down and backwards at the same time. Focus on retaining profitable customers by evaluating key metrics like total products per customer, late payments, and total customer service inquires.  Then "cut the fat" because not every current customer is profitable.  Convert single account owners to multi-product customers with email marketing retention programs and personalized x-sell product recommendations on the Web.  Stop investing in marketing or customer service time on unprofitable customer segments.
  • Improve the multichannel customer experience – Many companies are restructuring marketing, sales and service teams around the Enterprise Customer Experience (ECM). A senior level executive is responsible for all customer-facing channels and content. I wrote about this recently in my trends 2009 eBusiness research and shared a sample org chart from a top 5 US insurance company. The insurer has realized increases in customer satisfaction and retention after implementing ECM.  Major reorganizations take time and can be painful as many companies downsize.  eBusiness managers are also investing in enterprise search tools that deliver more relevant content from Web customer inquiries.  Better search results can reduce call center volume and improve profitability.
  • Leverage analytics across the Web and all channels – The priority list is simple to create when you are measuring what is wrong within your company. Lower online conversion rates? Increased customer attrition? Increased online cost per sale ? If you don’t know what is wrong, start their first. Leverage the customer data available within the Web and other channels. Web site analytics, call center tracking and other business intelligence tools are must-haves for any eBusiness and channel manager.

The prioritization is up to you because you know your business better than anyone else. These are proven strategies supported by our research from consumers and executives across several industries.

Take a deep breath…remember that the sun is still shining and focus on attainable goals. We will all be OK…some times we just need to "get back to the basics."

Do you agree or disagree?