Working outside-in: how to nail customer-centricity

    outside-in decision making

    Align business goals with customer needs to see larger returns on investment.

    Key business decisions are often made through either a top-down or bottom-up approach. But what if the voice of the customer took precedence over all else? This is the essence of the outside-in approach, a methodology that will transform how you align business objectives with customer needs, ultimately saving time and resources while driving growth.

    Consider a scenario where a healthcare provider wants to reduce the number of late payments they receive from patients. The CFO declares that late fees should be increased and issued more frequently to cover the lost revenue. The various billing departments across the country follow his order. However, the number of late payments doesn’t change.

    That’s because they didn’t solve the core problem. If they had talked to patients, they’d realize the majority weren’t missing payments intentionally or because they couldn’t afford it. They just didn’t like to manually pay through the mail or on the online portal. Many would have preferred to pay their bills with auto-pay.

    This is a classic misalignment between business goals and customer desires. Had the company talked to customers first, they could have built the auto-pay feature, recovered the lost revenue, and increased customer satisfaction all in a short amount of time. 

    While transitioning to an outside-in approach may seem daunting for organizations used to hierarchical methods, it's really about incorporating customer research into your goals and decisions, rather than completely changing how your organization is structured. Ultimately, it’s about keeping everyone aligned with the customer’s needs and making sure to always put them first.

    Working outside-in: aligning customer needs with business goals

    The outside-in approach begins with extensive customer research, and then connects that information to business objectives. Starting with a broad goal such as revenue recovery, you can analyze customer data gathered from the billing experience, and map it onto a journey. Then, seeing current solutions matched up to customer pains, you can start to prioritize projects and tasks. 

    As a contrast, the inside-out approach typically skips over validating solutions with customer data. An executive wants revenue recovery to improve, comes up with an unvalidated solution, and then various teams spend extensive time and resources executing it.  While this method may look efficient at first, it can lead to companies completely missing the mark, developing useless products or unnecessary inefficiencies. 

    Working inside-out has other costs that may not be immediately reflected in your bottom line. Employee motivation and engagement may suffer when PMs feel like backlog managers, developers don’t see tangible results, or service designers feel like their research is under-utilized. Tying all projects and objectives to the customer reminds everyone of the why of what they’re building, and puts human faces, names, and voices to the problems they’re spending their days trying to solve. 

    Journey Management: tools and methods for customer-centric success

    Customer journeys are the natural starting point for teams working outside-in because they provide not only a complete overview of the customer experience, but also the pains and gains that naturally come up along the way. 

    Journey Management methods and tools keep everyone on the same page and facilitate a journey-centric workflow. 

    The building blocks of Journey Management

    Journey Mapping screen shot

    TheyDo’s Journey Management system consists of five building blocks for improving the customer experience:

    • Personas: The types of people who are using your products or services

    • Insights: Qualitative customer data distilled into bite-sized information nuggets, in the form of quotes, reviews, ratings, etc. 

    • Opportunities: Core problems or pain areas that you have identified within the customer journey 

    • Solutions: Ideas you generate to improve customer experiences, or existing features, content, processes, and experiments that are already in place

    • Metrics: quantitative and qualitative performance indicators such as NPS, CSAT, conversion rates, and customer effort scores that contribute to overall business goals

    Once you’ve populated your journey maps with these building blocks (or use Journey AI to automatically populate maps for you), you will begin to see patterns and gaps in the customer experience. This generates even more opportunities for innovation and growth.

    How Journey AI can ease the transition from inside-out to outside-in

    If overhauling your organization’s decision-making process sounds overwhelming, AI can ease the transition. Journey AI takes your raw customer research, organizes it into journeys in TheyDo, and uncovers insights so that you can make well-informed decisions about what opportunity to target next. 

    Journey AI allows you to contextualize vast amounts of customer data very fast, so that you always have accurate, up-to-date information to base your decisions on. With all that information at your fingertips, you can be confident that you've captured user sentiment and are prioritizing the right projects. 

    Using AI also democratizes the mapping process. Instead of relying on data analysts or customer researchers, everyone can access the mapping tool, understand current customer needs, and generate new maps. 

    Lastly, automating the mapping process frees up time for all teams to focus on delivering exceptional experiences, rather than getting bogged down in manual mapping, data analysis, and internal alignment struggles. 

    Benefits of the outside-in approach

    Prioritizing the customer has many business benefits, including:

    1. High customer satisfaction: By aligning decisions with customer needs and preferences, businesses can deliver products and services that better meet customer expectations, leading to higher satisfaction and loyalty.

    2. A competitive advantage: Understanding and responding to customer demands faster and more accurately than competitors gives you a significant edge in the market.

    3. Improved innovation: Incorporating customer feedback and insights fosters a culture of innovation, driving the development of products and services that resonate with customers and address their evolving needs.

    4. Increased revenue: Satisfied and loyal customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and recommend products or services to others, which boosts revenue in the long and short-term.

    5. Reduced risk: By basing decisions on customer data and feedback, businesses can minimize the risk of investing resources in products or services that may not resonate with their target audience.

    6. Stronger Brand Reputation: Demonstrating a commitment to understanding and meeting customer needs can enhance your business's reputation, attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.

    7. Better decision-making: Incorporating customer insights into decision-making processes provides valuable guidance and helps businesses prioritize initiatives that have the greatest potential to drive success.

    Driving growth through customer-centricity

    Working from the outside-in doesn’t mean de-prioritizing ambitious growth goals. You just start to approach growth from a different angle.

    By grounding decisions in customer data and research, making use of cutting edge tools such as Journey AI, and giving your teams the context they need to execute their tasks confidently, you’re empowering everyone in your organization to contribute to growth and success. This will have a long-term positive impact on your employees and your bottom line. 

    Customer-centricity is a journey everyone can get behind, and your customers will thank you for it.

    Try Journey AI today