Perfecting Service Management

Issue #13 Tuesday, March 3, 2003


topical index

Welcome to this edition of the Customer Centricity newsletter, where we explore ways you can improve the performance of your service organization.

In this issue Ida Zecco shares the second article in the ACTIVE series: a self-assessment providing insight on how to hang-on to and grow your SINGLE source of revenue - the customer. Additionally, Lauren Weiss provides an article on how to strengthen your customer relationships with data integrity.


In this issue:

Customer Centricity Delivering A Customer Service Workshop

Customer Centricity is again scheduled to present "A Customer Service Workshop" at Rivier College, in Nashua, NH. This event will take place on Thursday, March 20, from 5:45-7:45pm. This program is sponsored by the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center.

To register contact Rosemary Macmillan at Rivier College at 603-897-8587 or via email at

Rivier College, Calendar of Events:


Where to focus: on Wall Street or the Customer?

The reality is that you need to focus on both. If you are like me, you have read a number of articles featuring companies that focused on the needs of Wall Street to the detriment of their firm's long-term viability.

Do you want your company to be profitable for the long-term? Is your firm like many that are focused on squeezing out every bit of revenue to make the current quarter look favorable, at the cost of long-term growth and profitability? Isn't this cutting off your nose to spite your face? There is a better way.

If you haven't read the March 3rd edition of Fortune, you are encouraged to do so. The article "America's Most Admired Companies" (page 81) states: "The top ten won the business world's regard, too, by refocusing attention where it counts the most: on customers and employees. The article quotes A.G. Lafley, chief executive of No. 10 Proctor and Gamble, which rejoined the list after a five-year absence: "Over the last half of the 1990s, we were all a little bit too shareholder focused, too growth-at-any-cost focused. I tried to get people to flip that around. If we create brands that make a difference to our customers and focus on the fundamentals, ultimately shareholder growth will take care of itself."

Why not take the opportunity, in this down economy, to refocus on the needs of your customers and employees? If you do Wall Street's admiration will follow, as it has for other companies that have done just that.

The challenge is the quarterly earnings reporting cycle. Wall Street's expectations are that you will achieve specific results, this quarter. Remember the proverbial statement "PAY ME NOW OR PAY ME LATER?"

To turn the economic conditions of this country around, business leaders need to focus on adding real value to customers and employees, rather than on short-term decisions that make the quarterly numbers look favorable. As A.G. Lafley's states, "…create brands that make a difference to our customers and focus on the fundamentals, ultimately shareholder growth will take care of itself."

To learn more about “America’s Most Admired Companies", as featured in Fortune magazine, click on the following link. I hope to see your firm on this list next year.



ACTIVE - Part 2

By Ida Zecco

This is the second article in the series, which covers the six-step self-assessment process, ACTIVE, to help you to hang-on to and grow your single source of revenue, the customer.

A - Account Management
C - Customer Lifecycle vs. Sales Cycle
T - Account Team
I - Internal Infrastructure
V - Value Proposition
E - Enable Customer Involvement in Product/Service Development

C – Customer Life Cycle should replace Sales Cycle. As long as there is a relationship with a customer, on any level, there is an opportunity to generate additional revenue. There must be a clear and simple strategy that everyone, from your company’s CEO to a receptionist, understands when engaged in any activity with a customer or potential customer. Every call, every letter, every visit, every e-mail, every fax has the makings of a potential sale.

Do your employees know who your most valuable customers are? Do they recognize a potential sale, and where the letter/ call/e-mail/fax should be referred? What are the processes in place for every level of employee as to what to do; what to say, if they are engaged with a customer/potential customer? Are employees authorized to act immediately on behalf of all customers: “do the right thing?” Do they know what the “right thing” is? What systems are in place that enable employees to have as much customer information as possible at their fingertips, to create a “one-company” impression with your customers? Can every employee give an “elevator speech?” Is your employee orientation a few hours of company benefits and HR forms? Or does your employee orientation prepare your greatest company assets to become your greatest revenue generating organization? Is everyone trained, developed and worthy of wearing your company “t-shirt?” The customer experience results from how you have prepared each and every employee.

I will review remaining elements of this self-assessment (the "TIVE" in ACTIVE) in subsequent newsletter editions.

Previous articles in this series:

Part 1



Strengthening Customer Relationships With Data Integrity

By Lauren Weiss

To have a strong relationship with your customers, you need to know everything you can about them, particularly as pertains to your company’s interactions with them. Some of this information needs to be at the fingertips of all customer-facing personnel. Other information needs to be reportable at various levels of granularity. How do you make sure you have all the information you need, and that it is complete and accurate?

What Data to Gather To keep data manageable, store only what you need. Gathering information from customers takes time – yours and theirs. Don’t gather information that you won’t use, and be sure to use anything you do gather. Determining what data you need results from analyzing all of your customer-related needs: troubleshooting procedures, reporting requirements, billing requirements, service needs, government regulations, etc.

Data Entry and Maintenance Processes Once you’ve determined what data is necessary, it is important to implement data entry and maintenance processes. If no one is responsible for initial entry or ongoing upkeep of the data, it will become spotty or stale, and virtually useless. Do not create a new data field without first establishing data owners, often groups, who are responsible and accountable for insuring it stays current and complete. A single data element may have one owner for initial entry and another for changes made at a later time. Hand-off points between groups, such as from Order Management to Customer Care, should include acceptance of required data elements. In other words, the receiving group must identify all required data elements, and the transferring group must provide those data elements before the receiving group will accept the hand-off.

Data Validation To make the most of the specific data elements you capture, you should validate the data being entered at the time of data entry. This validation can take the form of restricted lists of values, parameter ranges, or validation against other data elements. The use of free text fields should be limited to descriptive information. Reporting on information embedded within long, free-text fields is not worthwhile. Critical data for reports should be stored in separate fields; this allows for greater flexibility in presenting and using the information.

Primary Data Sources A common problem, especially within large organizations, is the duplication of data in multiple systems. Customers want to provide their information once only, not once for each system your company has. In addition, depending on how the multiple systems are (or are not) kept synchronized, data from these multiple sources can be in conflict. In such a situation, it becomes difficult to know which data is correct. It is important to identify which system is the primary source for each data element. Secondary systems should then rely on the primary data source for data feeds, whether automatic or manual.

Customer data is a vital component of maintaining strong customer relationships. However, for data to be an asset, it must be complete, accurate, and available. Following the guidelines outlined in this article will improve the integrity of your customer data and strengthen your customer relationships.


More About Customer Centricity, Inc.

Customer Centricity is a business consulting firm that partners with companies to improve the performance of their service organizations. We leverage our real-world experience to help our clients manage their customer relationships in more effective and satisfying ways.

Customer Centricity delivers on this promise by optimizing the interaction between people, process and technology to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction and increased operational efficiencies. We provide:

  1. Comprehensive assessments to identify the actions that will yield the greatest return;
  2. Skills Training to enable customer-facing personnel to deliver exceptional levels of customer service;
  3. Design and Implementation of business process techniques to serve the customer in efficient, effective and consistent manners; and
  4. Identification of the appropriate business processes to automate, enabling companies to get the most from their investments in technology.

In addition to our core practices, we also maintain a network of strategic partnerships to provide end-to-end consulting across your organization with a commitment to seamless execution.

Click on the following link to see what our customers have to say.

To learn more about Customer Centricity:

call: 603.491.7948

send e-mail to: 

or visit our web-site:

In Closing

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Copyright (c) 2003 by Customer Centricity, Inc. All rights reserved.