Sure, customers share behaviors, preferences, traits. They have similar opportunities and face similar challenges. But no two customers are the same. Each has its own unique set of needs and business models that share their expectations of working with suppliers and vendors. Consequently, you cannot exceed each customer’s expectations if you treat all customers the same.

CRMI’s CEMDNA Playbook Strategy includes four approaches designed to help you understand the needs of each major type of customer. This will allow you to create a CEM strategy designed to success with each customer type. The process is meant to leave nothing to chance in your interactions, regardless of which touchpoints you use to connect with customers.

Segment the customer base: Determine which are your key accounts, your strategic accounts, and your marginal accounts. Key accounts typically comprise 20% of a customer base, but deliver 80% of revenue. These are accounts you’ll want to retain, which means ensuring that you consistently exceed their expectations. Strategic accounts are priorities, as well. They may be brand names or are in new markets you want to develop. Retaining these customers requires delivering a high level of service and support.

Marginal customers deliver limited value. They aren’t strategic, but do provide a revenue stream. Don’t overinvest in service and support for these customers; instead, consider self-service options. And if they’re unprofitable, you may be better off without them.

Segment key account contacts: Key accounts are a company’s “bread and butter,” so it’s worth taking the time to understand the players within each key account. Determine who, within each key account, is a decision maker, recommender, and influencer. This is vital because each will have different needs, goals, and expectations. Knowing this information will help dictate the appropriate level of service and support to correctly and consistently meet those expectations.

Build 360-degree alignment: Compare your perception of the customer experience against customers’ actual experiences. Survey and interview customers and customer-facing staff on their perceptions and experiences. (It’s best to hire an independent third party to obtain “unvarnished” feedback.) Combine the results with existing surveys to see where there are gaps in service delivery versus expectations. This will help you evaluated where you fall on the CEM maturity scale.

Create action alerts: Customer interactions and customer feedback often reveal unexpected revenue opportunities or unforeseen issues. Responding as quickly and efficiently as possible is essential to exceeding customer expectations in these situations. Being proactive—for example, using CRMI’s Action AlertsSM—can help get to resolution faster. Action Alerts include a full description of the situation and a predetermined escalation procedure, which allows an employee to act on the alert as quickly as possible.

Partner for profit: This methodology is designed to encourage key accounts to think of you as a value-added partner. The objective is to establish an ongoing, proactive relationship with your most profitable customers by consistently communicating the value of the products and services you provide. This approach typically results in retaining and growing key accounts and generating new business referrals. The goal of this approach is to help your customers get the most from your products and services.


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Account Management is one of 12 elements that comprise the CEMDNA Playbook Strategy.