Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #152

Wednesday, August 12 , 2009

CCI Sponsors 'Cool' Event

Customer Centricity is joining a select team of organizations in sponsoring the 2009 Hot Stove Cool Music: The Summer Sessions VIP Party. This fundraising event is taking place in Boston on the evening of August 31, 2009 prior to the Counting Crows concert at the Bank of America Pavilion. The event will benefit The Foundation to be Named Later, an organization which is on the frontlines serving disadvantaged children and families. The foundation was established by Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein and his brother Paul as a branch of the Red Sox Foundation.

To learn more about the event or to inquire about the availability of remaining VIP tickets, please visit The Foundation to be Named Later's website: www.foundationtobenamedlater.org. To view the full announcement about the Hot Stove Cool Music: The Summer Sessions VIP Party, please click here.

Head in the Sand or Nose to the Grindstone?
By
Craig Bailey

While there are glimmers of hope in the current economic outlook, stories of gloom remain. And, it seems there is a long road to recovery ahead. That said, team-Customer Centricity continues to be very busy (and growing) as we work with leading firms who are investing in improving the customer experience and operational performance.

I know that it is difficult to (continue to) reduce costs while delivering the same (or better) service to the customer. However, it is simply table-stakes. If all you are doing is cutting costs and keeping your head in the sand until the "current" black cloud blows over, you are going to be at a disadvantage vs. those firms that are quietly retooling their operations.

As a leader, it is your job to keep the team optimistic about the prospects of the future by backing it up with positive action to prepare your organization accordingly. If you need ideas to get started, here is a check-list of things that you can do quickly and easily (i.e., these things don't have to cost a lot of money, and can be done with internal resources):

  • Do you know how your customers REALLY feel about you? If you are doing a customer survey, is it giving you the information you need to feel comfortable that you have a solid read on your customers' perception of you? If there is ANY concern, you can perform a customer perception-polling exercise. By asking 3 simple questions to key customer decision makers, you will learn EXACTLY where you stand:
    • What is working well in your relationship with our firm?

    • What do you feel are opportunities for improvement?

    • What are the key success factors in your relationship with us and are we meeting these?

While you may not be able to perform the above for all, or even a majority of, customers, this exercise should be considered absolutely crucial for ALL your key accounts (at a minimum).

  • Are you TRULY obtaining input from your customer touch points? This is much more than the monthly management report of metrics (i.e., call volumes, answer times, service levels, renewals, etc.). Have you asked your front-line personnel:
    • What is in your way of delivering a truly exceptional customer experience?

    • What is driving the customer nuts?

The people to ask these questions include your front-line customer service, technical support and account management personnel (to start). When doing so, indicate that EVERYTHING is fair game. And, to ensure you get the unfiltered truth you need an external (of that department), objective, unbiased party to obtain this information and report up to senior management. Attempting to bubble-up this information "through the ranks" will result in sugar-coated feedback that is so polished, there is no room for improvement. In fact, you'll probably be lulled into (more) complacency.

  • Do you have a punch-list of improvement opportunities, prioritized by "bang for the buck" and a road-map to completing these? If not, engage one of your top-notch program/project managers and have him/her frame-up and DRIVE the enterprise-wide effort to get out of the swamp.
  • Has your firm been on an acquisition binge? If so, have you consolidated all operations (people, processes and systems) and product lines? If not, review each organization (the acquiring and acquired) for best practices and best systems, define a roadmap (again, based upon bang for the buck) and adopt/deploy each enterprise-wide. Make no mistake, it may actually be the parent that could use a dose of the acquired firm's processes and/or systems. So, leaders within the acquiring firms have an open mind about this. Having this open-minded conversation between all the parties can help bring everyone together on the same page faster and potentially yield improvements in unforeseen areas. In other words, everyone will begin to work more as one team vs. "us and them."
  • Have you outsourced or based key components of your operations (service, support, telemarketing, business development, etc.) on partner relationships? Are these third party functions operating at arms length distance with your firm, with lots of stuff falling through the cracks? Are you not achieving the efficiencies that you expected, but it is too painful and/or expensive (can't break the contract) to turn back now? If so, then spin-up an initiative to improve processes and system interfaces with these "partners." Because, whether you realize it or not, these partners are simply extensions of your organization. And, in the eyes of the customer they ARE your organization. If they aren't operating effectively on your behalf, or there is a broken interface with your firm, then you are not delivering a seamless experience to your customer or the bottom-line results you've promised to your share-holders.

Again, any of the above items can be done internally, if your staff has the bandwidth. That said, if you need help feel free to contact us. It just so happens that the above is a punch-list of current initiatives that we are working on with a number of our clients.

 

Contents

+ Eking out Improvements in a Cost-Constrained Environment


 


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Some Words From Our  Customers
Check out what a customer had to say about his experience with Customer Centricity:

"Our organization needed to move from a process-centric to a customer-centric focus. We engaged Craig Bailey and Customer Centricity to assist us in moving in the right direction while simultaneously controlling costs and preserving resources. Phase I of the project was an organization assessment and implementation plan. We are very pleased with the outcome of Phase I and feel that the results were well worth the investment.

Much of the success of this project is due to Craig's skill and approach. The
fact that the staff responded so enthusiastically is a testament to his ability to make them feel comfortable, ask them the right questions and to express the intention of improvement rather than criticism.

The true proof of our satisfaction with Craig's services is that we will be engaging him to oversee our Phase II implementation project. I'm looking forward to our next steps and to moving forward to customer centricity!


Kristy Wright
President/CEO
VNA, Western Pennsylvania


About Customer Centricity, Inc.
We strengthen overall company performance through better service delivery and management.

We boost efficiencies in front-line customer service and technical support teams, order processing, fulfillment, field service, logistics and other key operations functions.

In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

See What Our Customers Say

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