Four CSFs for B2B Personalization

The weekly summary gave everyone an instant picture of status – green, yellow or red—along with what just happened, what was about to happen, and where the problems were.
The weekly summary gave everyone an instant picture of status – green, yellow or red—along with what just happened, what was about to happen, and where the problems were.

This is the final of four blog posts detailing how Agilent answered those questions to achieve a successful, integrated, customer experience that supports marketing and pleases customers.

Implementation plans only tell us how one team dealt with their specific context. But the lessons learned, and elements critical to success, can be applied to many projects.

Neil Martin, head of Agilent’s e-business when the projects began, shared his assessment of the conditions that made the rollout of MyAgilent and ICE successful: predictable, on budget, aligned with business objectives, and achieving business goals.

In all, there are just four conditions that Neil described as critical to Agilent’s success:
1. Clarity in objectives, strategy, roles, and responsibilities
2. Short, Customer-Driven Development Cycle
3. Effective and committed sponsorship
4. Concise and frequent communications

1. Clarity in objectives, strategy, roles, and responsibilities
Before the customer engagement projects even began, Neil forced his project managers and the executives to collaboratively develop and document clear objectives. Success must be measurable as the attainment of a specific numerical goal. The team set up the structure for the projects, including very specific roles and responsibilities. Neil said, “We worked on it so hard that people got tired of it. But we didn’t stop until we had clear accountability. A mistake teams often make is that accountability seems to only flow downward. Our roles/responsibilities hold all parties accountable. If you are on this project, you are accountable.”

2. Short, Customer-Driven Development Cycle
Agilent has guiding principles for projects: Set achievable project goals and meet them. Focus on critical priorities. External customers come first.

Neil and his project managers broke the customer engagement initiative into releases that delivered new capabilities every 6 months. All decisions were based on customer input and testing. As Neil observes, “There are so many internal opinions, it is hard to decide. So the default answer is customer testing and measuring customer preferences. The customer voice eliminates the internal debate.”

For example, the plan to require some level of customer login for downloads was very controversial within Agilent. There was staunch resistance and considerable anxiety about the customer experience impact. So the team built and deployed the login in such a way that it could be rolled back if customer reaction was negative. Knowing that customer satisfaction would guide the decision about the login requirement made the risk acceptable.

3. Effective and committed sponsorship
Executives have plenty on their plates, and conflicting demands. How do you get sufficient commitment to your projects that you can be successful?

Embed the outcome of your project into executives’ metrics. ICE goals included a higher customer satisfaction score, a large number of registered users, and a specific conversion rate for qualified leads. Various executives had ownership of these business goals. This establishes accountability as well as motivation to support the ICE project.

4. Concise and frequent communications
The Project Management Office, comprised of one very organized person working with a project office in IT, tracked the progress of all three ICE projects and coordinated their status. Since all three threads – MyAgilent, gated content, and marketing automation—were interdependent, all projects had to succeed. Every Friday, the PMO dashboard provided status of the entire program showing the key elements of each project. Overall status was summarized in a single PPT slide: elements were green, yellow, or red. Drilling down revealed the reasons for status. It was easy to see what the holdups were, and also clear what the to-dos and responsibilities were.

Executives, including the CIO and CMO, received a monthly review of business readiness of the projects’ capabilities, as well as formal program reviews.

Agilent Technologies is a world-leading measurement company. Its singular focus on measurement helps scientists and engineers alike with its designs and manufacturing of scientific instrumentation. The company is organized into four business groups: Chemical Analysis, Life Sciences, Diagnostics and Genomics, and Electronic Measurement. You might remember Agilent’s birth in 1999 as a spin-off from HP. This case study reflects customer experience and marketing evolution at the Electronic Measurement Group of Agilent.

Agilent is an illuminating example of how – and why—companies can succeed with personalization initiatives.


Published by Sue Aldrich

I'm a talented writer who connects business goals with technology, to get your message across through readable and engaging content. I have expertise in personalization, customer experience, journey optimization, recommendations, and search. I also research and write articles on sustainability for my hometown newspaper, Sterling Meetinghouse News.

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