SOURCE: AchieveGlobal

December 19, 2006 11:23 ET

Will This Be the Year of the Customer?

AchieveGlobal CEO Offers a Look Ahead to 2007

TAMPA, FL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 19, 2006 -- As business leaders at America's most successful firms welcome in the New Year, many share a recommitment to driving productivity and crafting customer experiences to fuel growth, according to Sharon Daniels, president and CEO of international training and consulting firm AchieveGlobal (

"Many organizations have eked out about all the cost savings they can," says Daniels. "As we move into 2007, it's more about growing the top line, acquiring new customers and differentiating the organization from its competitors."

Common themes

Although each business faces its own unique set of challenges, growth is at least one common theme -- whether it's finding new ways to drive it, manage it or staff up to support it. In addition, organizations in saturated markets are stepping up the pace of innovation, those with a global reach are straining to accommodate a world of diverse customers, and everyone is engaged in an out-and-out war for talent.

Because price, speed, efficiency and many products can be matched by competitors, businesses know they need to differentiate on other terms, Daniels says, and they realize their efforts must be well targeted. The most successful organizations are focusing their sales systems to ensure their people pursue and secure the right kinds of customers, while also shoring up their frontline service teams to build positive, memorable experiences.

Back to the customer

"After years of talking about efficiencies and cost-cutting, people are turning their attention to the customer again," says Daniels. "Companies are placing renewed emphasis on customer experience management, a trend we expect will continue as commoditization makes it harder for organizations to compete."

It appears customers will appreciate the effort: a 2006 study of mid-market companies by Loudhouse Research found that 94 percent of respondents ranked quality of service as a top priority, even over price and incentives. What's more, respondents to the Consumer Experience Survey from Harris Interactive and RightNow indicated that good customer service is at least as important as good products and prices when it comes to their loyalty.

According to Daniels, many industries are already putting this knowledge into action. "Consider the hospitality field -- with so many brands and choices, these organizations understand the critical need to create experiences that keep customers coming back," she says. "The real standouts are working as teams to map out the right experiences rather than leaving it to chance. They are carefully crafting their sales and service processes and making sure their people have the right skills to carry them out."

In an increasingly competitive, fast-paced and global marketplace, Daniels advises organizations to concentrate on their people to grow the business and help them stay focused on customers. "Know what you need from your workforce, choose the right people and provide them with the processes and skills they need to be effective," she says. "There's only so much leaders can do alone. But when the entire workforce shares the same strategic vision and is well prepared to carry out organizational goals -- that can have tremendous impact."

About AchieveGlobal

Based in Tampa, Fla., AchieveGlobal ( provides research-based learning solutions that aid clients in developing leaders and acquiring, growing and retaining profitable customer relationships. Working with AchieveGlobal's trainers and consultants, clients can translate strategies into results by improving the performance of their people in the areas of leadership, service and sales effectiveness.

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