How to double the size of your business by becoming a true customer led organisation

We recently hosted our Chief Customer Officer Breakfast Autumn Briefing at the Shard. Our keynote speaker was Kerry Prince, Portfolio Director at Reed Exhibitions, who we invited to tell of her experiences transforming a brand within the organisation.

Kerry has been tasked with taking one of the core events within the Reed Exhibition portfolio that was growing at 1-2% per year and doubling the size of the business within a three year timeframe. Her presentation was about the steps she is taking to achieve this aim, the core foundation of which was to create a truly customer led event and business.

The core of her presentation covered the 5 key guiding principles that have been developed to help her team achieve their ambitions. But she also described the start point as being ‘rocky'. One of the big challenges was that whilst they had a lot of data about customers, they had developed relatively little insight about the real value drivers for those customers.

Principle 1 – Defining excellence

Kerry felt it was essential to come to a common agreement about what, exactly, the business was targeting and what ‘excellence’ looked like. For her specific brand, Infosec, excellence was defined as having the following characteristics:

  • The event needed to facilitate industry knowledge exchange
  • It needed to be focussed on supporting customers’ needs and deliver value to those customers
  • There was a strong need to deliver a unified customer experience
  • The customer focus should be based on valuing them all year, and not just during the period of the event
  • These activities should be structured and based on driving growth

She outlined the four key stages

Principle 2 – Fixing the basics

The foundation step was to stop doing stupid things. There were so many areas where the business could “fix the basics” that were identified by undertaking customer insight and using this insight to optimise existing operations. This allowed Kerry and her team to address all the customer touch points from account management and pricing, through to the sales and booking process event booking processes.

Principle 3 – Enhance the Core Offering

A key finding from the insight was that there were a number of customer needs (both exhibitor and visitor) that were not met from the exhibition alone. Kerry explained that in order to enhance the core offering, it was necessary to develop ancillary services that turned Infosec from begin a three day exhibition to being a week-long event, including networking, conference elements, social events, etc. This created far more touch points and a significant number of additional revenue streams.

Principle 4 – Creating a 365-day Relationship

The core conclusion from the insight, however, was that customers needed a 365 day per year relationship, not a three day exhibition. This required a significant change to the positioning of the brand (moving from a being an exhibition with a brand called Infosec – to being a brand called Infosec that happened to have an exhibition). this required a fundamental change to the internal culture of the organisation. Kerry described how she needed to realign the organisational structures to drive towards a customer driven culture. This cultural change, combined with understanding their customers and their needs, has allowed Infosec to develop products and services that double the size of the business within the three year time scale.

Principle 5 – Building a Global Brand

Kerry was clear about her ambitions. The steps she described are facilitating the construction of a truly global brand. It meant building products her customers want around the world. The thinking is driven by their market and a customer led focus on how value is delivered. The customer personas and cultural change allow them to credibly deliver holistic solutions which will double the size of the business.