Milliken and Company, a global manufacturing organization with more than 150 years of industry innovations, is known for its wide-ranging expertise in research, design and production. Milliken serves industries with floor coverings, specialty chemicals, textiles and healthcare products. The Performance and Protective Textiles leadership team within the Textile Division launched a multi-year initiative for growth acceleration through 2025. Specifically, the team sought to develop a growth strategy for the workwear segment centered on identifying new value creation opportunities that include a focus on technologies and services that could potentially increase margins.
Milliken developed and prioritized objectives for its Luminas Customer Value Xcelerator® (CVX) engagement:
- Understand value delivered to customers in terms of their impact on customer profitability.
- Optimize their value proposition based on the customers’ value drivers.
- Develop a prioritized list of customer-driven growth opportunities and strategic insights to influence resource allocation and investment decisions.
Ultimately, the CVX process delivered valuable insights to support the optimization of a customer-confirmed value proposition, develop an informed list of investment opportunities and further cultivate profitable customer relationships.
Together, we concentrated the CVX engagement on four major North American workwear market customers across three potential segments: large industrial laundries, traditional retail and smaller high growth customers.
Understand & Measure
To help Milliken develop a perspective of its most valuable customer deliverables, the Luminas team conducted surveys and working sessions with cross-functional customer support representatives. This process produced a cross-segment hypothesis of the differential value that Milliken was currently delivering to each customer across the segments.
Comparing Milliken’s products and services to the customer-provided next best alternatives, the internal team agreed that Milliken delivered differential value through supply chain, innovation, product quality and product differentiation.
“Before CVX, we had a very limited view of our value proposition – and in some cases a misplaced view,” said Charles Crowell, Director of Corporate Strategy, Milliken and Company. “In one case we were completely wrong about what our customer valued and who they believed our competition to be. It was a real wake-up call.”
Luminas obtained internal perspective consensus and facilitated five (5) validation interviews with four Milliken customers, representing five distinct customer brands. The outcomes revealed that while three customer relationships were mutually beneficial and held significant prospects for partnership-level growth, two were delivering far less value than Milliken estimated and potentially at risk of not delivering anticipated growth. See two validation examples in Figure 1.
Milliken gained beneficial insights from the validation exercise related to the customer-reported product and service attributes that deliver differential value. Milliken’s supply chain differential value was greater than estimated, primarily due to its on-time delivery performance, which allowed customers to realize additional sale potential and necessary production-scaling abilities. Compared to a key competitor, Milliken’s distinct product quality contributed to the customer’s ability to reduce manufacturing costs.
Milliken also obtained a deeper understanding of its true competition based on customer feedback and became aware of “blind spots” that posed potential business risks.
Luminas compared Milliken’s internal perspective of its provided differential value to each customer with the customer-validated calculations. This evaluation helped identify key insights and actions that would play a crucial role in developing a customized, mutually beneficial growth strategy.
The customers shared a detailed and prioritized list of future growth opportunities and invited Milliken to consider new products, services and capabilities to support growth priorities. Similarly, Milliken offered ideas for customer consideration to assist in evaluating customer-driven growth opportunities based on the potential contribution each partner could make to foster growth and profitability.
The account teams discovered their customers shared a list of prioritized future opportunities that could contribute to Milliken delivering more customer value:
- Faster product innovation
- Cost reduction on current products
- Supply chain improvements to support global footprint and growth
- Cost-effective use of new global product technologies
- Quicker scale-up to production capabilities
“The whole team took part in the CVX process and now they’re involved and engaged in strategic customer planning, which is something they’ve never done before,” said Jeff Morris, Senior Vice President, Milliken & Company. “We’d always been an internally-focused culture; now we’re actively taking an interest in our customers’ businesses and spending time to understand how we can win and grow together.”
Results and Recommendations
Based on the CVX findings, Luminas provided Milliken with a unique set of recommendations for each customer that included key observations, suggested actions and the expected impact.
Next, Milliken gained internal alignment on the following key decisions as the most important areas to act:
Luminas reviewed the validation exercise and related insights and facilitated a planning workshop with each of Milliken’s customer account teams. They agreed upon a list of eight (8) key action items specific to Milliken’s business that could be implemented with confidence across all five customer brands to create and capture additional customer value.
“The Customer Value Xcelerator process showed our customers that we want to understand what is important to their business,” said Crowell. “The customers, overall, found value in doing the deep dive and discovering that we really care.”
Validated customer insights help organizations make more confident decisions to capture customer value. Luminas leveraged the detailed information provided by Milliken’s customers to help the company recognize the benefit of enhanced customer collaboration and taking an outside-in approach to customer relationships. This method captured a more accurate perspective of the competitive landscape and gained a prioritized list of investment opportunities.
CVX supports the development of growth strategies and plans for key accounts, market segments and new products — providing specific actions based on validated customer insight and competitive intelligence captured through the process.
Continue Keep doing what’s delivering differential value today.
Fix Adjust the offerings that are eroding customer value today.
Enhance Make improvements that can deliver even more differential value.
Expedite Introduce current offerings that provide immediate impact to the customer.
Create Develop and implement the highest priority and mutually profitable new offerings.
Your organization can begin improving its winning score with customers by taking the following steps:
- Develop the key strategic growth questions that shape the organization’s organic growth.
- Identify the priority market segments, major customers and new products/services that are most critical to your organization’s organic growth.
- Select a group of customers to engage in an initial introduction of CVX.
- Engage your leadership to complete the Growth Driver Illuminator™️ to identify the current key growth decisions and develop decision-making confidence.
- Select a cross-functional internal team and begin developing your perspective on the differential value provided for the selected customers — we’re here to help.
To request more information on how Luminas helps leading brands make more confident business decisions click here.
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“Luminas has had a definite impact on the way our sales team thinks about how to sell value. We wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t gone through the process with them and gained such meaningful insights.”
“The whole team was engaged in the work with Luminas, it was impressive. As a result, we discovered areas where we can grow, become more nimble and think strategically about our business. We are now better prepared to partner with our customers and manage through big changes.
“Our customers were very appreciative that we took the time to ask the right questions about what is important to their business. Luminas helped us to create a more customer centric organization and to focus on what they value.”
“We saw the Luminas team as our partners, they were humble and cared about our business. Our customers found immense value in having conversations with us; the process showed our customers that we were interested in their feedback and wanted to hear their insights.”