Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #158

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Managing the Customer Experience - A Case Study Part 3
Craig Bailey

This week we share part three of the case study example outlining strategies and techniques that one of our past clients (PTC) has put in place to effectively manage the customer experience. This multi-part series results from a collaborative effort with Mark Hodges, DVP and Chief Customer Officer at PTC.

In the previous article in this series, we discussed the importance of executive oversight and engagement on key customer issues and methods for achieving this goal. In this article, we will cover the approach taken to ensure scalability of highly specialized resources who are engaged to address complex customer issues, while ensuring the "whole customer" is being considered.

Enterprise software solutions touch many aspects of the customer's business and IT infrastructure. One could go so far as to consider each customer's environment an eco-system. That is, if a "change" is introduced to one aspect of "the system", it can have ramifications, positive or negative, to another.

In order to effectively implement and support high-end solutions, multiple skill-sets are required across many areas of the enterprise software provider's organization. The key becomes leveraging these resources in a timely manner to meet the customers' needs, deliver consistent and repeatable results, and ensure that the customers' needs are met "holistically."

For example, have you, or someone you know, had the following experience: A doctor prescribes treatment to a patient to address a specific ailment. The patient dutifully follows instructions. Meanwhile the patient visits a different doctor to address what seems to be another ailment (which may or may not be another manifestation of the same issue). The second doctor subsequently prescribes treatment that, much to the patient's dismay, conflicts with the prior doctor's treatment and ultimately makes matters worse.

This is a common reality that occurs to customers of enterprise software solution providers that have not (yet) developed and matured practices for avoiding this outcome. And, it drives the customer absolutely mad. So how do you ensure that your company presents a single face to the customer and considers the entire customer eco-system? Ask PTC.

PTC recognized that superstars were emerging from the various organizations involved in implementing and supporting customer solutions. To address nuances that exist in myriad customer environments, unique approaches were being taken to meet customer requirements and resolve issues. A key objective became ensuring scalability of these resources by gleaning their best practices while ensuring each solution would be understood (by others) within the context of the situation it was meant to address.

To support this, PTC created the Enterprise Deployment Center. This cross-functional team is comprised of key resources from all disciplines involved in implementing and supporting customer solutions. The team includes senior resources from Technical Support, Consulting Services, R&D and Product Management. Members of the Enterprise Deployment Center work together to address key customer issues. This ensures that all aspects of the customer's configuration are considered as the solution is being developed. In addition, the strategies, tools, best practice approaches and techniques utilized by the team to resolve customer issues are documented and made available via web systems or specific training courses to others in the PTC support functions. This supports coaching, development and growth of a global community of personnel (beyond the resources within the Enterprise Deployment Center) arming them with the best skills and information to support their customers. When appropriate the information is also shared with Customers via "opt in" push email communities or knowledge databases.

Another benefit of this approach is that key lessons, gained from practical customer experience, are being shared with resources who have direct responsibility for the specification and requirements definition of future products and services. As a result, the customer experience directly drives improvements in reliability, supportability and diagnostic capabilities.

As reported by Mark Hodges: Investing in our "Tiger Team" approach, by creating the Enterprise Deployment Center, has provided us with the opportunity to maximize the potential of some of our most skilled resources and to then share their knowledge efficiently and effectively. This has accelerated the growth and development of support resources across the organization. We are finding that, while many customer environments have unique complexities, there are common best practices and approaches for issue resolution that can now be leveraged based on our methods of capturing, documenting and disseminating this information. Being able to "clone" the knowledge and experience of key technical resources in R&D, Product Management, Consulting Services and Technical Support is continuously improving our Customer Services.

Stay tuned for subsequent editions of our newsletter, in which we'll cover the remaining topics of this case study, including:

  • Customer surveys
  • Metrics and results
  • Taking things to the next level

About PTC: PTC is all about helping discrete manufacturers succeed by meeting their globalization, time-to-market, and operational efficiency objectives in product development. As one of the world's largest and fastest-growing software companies, PTC delivers a complete portfolio of integral Product Lifecycle Management solutions to over 50,000 customers in the Industrial, High Tech, Aerospace & Defense, Automotive, Consumer, and Medical Device industries.

PTC's solutions enable teams to collaborate across departments—and across continents—helping them create innovative products that meet their customer needs and comply with industry regulations. In addition to best-in-class solutions, PTC also delivers expert training, software support, and world-class services directly through PTC Global Services and indirectly through a range of partners.

View previous articles in this series



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VP Sales & Operations, Americas
Sophos, Inc.


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