President's Desk - The Year Ahead: What Can You Do?
Well folks, if your
business is like most then 2002 was truly a TOUGH year. We have
heard enough about the past, so I’m going to focus on the future.
On the downside, we have a potential war looming and a sluggish
economy. Does this mean that 2003 will be as tough, or tougher, on
your business? It doesn’t have to be this way.
It has been
demonstrated that firms which pull out of challenging business
environments, stronger than ever, are those that take advantage of
unique opportunities to capture market-share from the competition.
the law of inertia: the name given to the tendency of an object in
motion to stay in motion, and an object at rest to stay at rest.
In 2002 the tendency of many companies was one of either
contracting (downsizing) or of remaining constant (freezing). To
break out of the inertia of 2002, we each need to take new
To become more
cost-effective many companies are looking at the source of
required products and services, and determining if they are
getting the required return-on-investment. The main question for
each of us: “Is my company positioned to pass the acid-test when
my customer evaluates our performance in meeting their needs?”
would you want your company to be in ensuring that you achieve a
solid return on investment for products and services that you
purchase? Would you stand for working with a product/service
provider that had the following attributes?
- Wasted your
time, or the time of your personnel.
- Required you
to “manage” the relationship, more than you’d expect, because of
past performance issues.
anticipate your needs and performed for you on a reactionary vs.
a proactive basis.
asked you to participate in customer satisfaction surveys, yet
you received no follow-through indicating they are doing
anything with the input you are providing.
- Treated each
interaction as a unique transaction instead of building on the
long-standing relationship that you have with the firm.
- Felt like each
touch-point was with a different company making it difficult to
do business with.
- Put technology
in place to create operational efficiencies for the provider,
but added no value for you and made it even more difficult to do
- Rushed you off
the phone because the contact center was incented to meet
production metrics vs. meeting your needs.
- Required you
to re-educate the provider on your business, or specific needs,
at each interaction.
If you are not
convinced that you could pass the acid-test, then the tendency for
your firm may be to continue downsizing, or remain in a frozen
state for the foreseeable future. Isn’t it time to break away from
the pack and create the tendency for growth? If so, a first step
could be to ensure that you CAN pass the “acid-test”. By doing so,
you can establish a position of strength that you can leverage in
the market-place to capture market-share.
If you suspect
that you can’t pass the acid-test, you are encouraged to seek out
your trusted advisor(s) who can assist you in your continuous
improvement projects. Take a baseline of where you are today, and
put in place programs to close the gap between where you are and
where you want to be.
are doing just that. For example, we have recently had a number of
firms engage us to perform Customer Service Assessments. This is a
quick-hit/high-impact exercise performed with a low-burden on the
company’s resources (people and dollars). The result is a
comprehensive report of what is working well (and should
continuously be reinforced), opportunities for improvement, and
specific recommendations. In keeping with the reality of today’s
business environment, continuous improvement initiatives cannot be
focused on multi-month / multi-year programs. As such, we are sure
to identify those key tactical / actionable recommendations that
bring IMMEDIATE value to the client.
If you meet and
exceed the needs of your customers, you are in a position of
strength. If you don’t, the inertia of 2002 may prevail for your
firm. Customer Centricity wishes you much success in 2003.