Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #162

Wednesday, March 9, 2010

We are delighted to bring you two articles in this edition of our newsletter. In the first article, CCI President Craig Bailey shares a recent community service project he had the opportunity to participate in. The second article is the conclusion of our recent case study series on "Managing the Customer Experience."

Helping Those in Need...Again

On Monday, March 1, the team from the First Baptist Church of Hudson, NH, embarked on the journey to the Mississippi Gulf Coast area. The team was comprised of: Craig Bailey, Al Daigle, Rich Fieler, Ed Gotham, Reverend Jim Harrington, Fred Miller, Bob Nealon, RJ Nealon, Joe Pirroni and Tony Rice.

Upon arriving at Camp Victor in Ocean Springs, MS, the team attended an orientation session (along with about 60 other volunteers from around the country). The Camp Victor crew provided an overview of the facility in which the team was to be housed for the week. And, the Habitat for Humanity crew shared details regarding the job sites that the volunteers would be deployed to.

On the first day of work (Tuesday), the team met at the main work-site. After receiving a safety briefing and a review of the coming week, the team was split between 2 sites. One group was transported several miles away to install a large window, attic stairs and build a platform to house the new home's HVAC unit. The second group began what would be the primary work for the remainder of the week: "punching out houses." This involved taking care of the miscellaneous details necessary to ready houses for the homeowner, such as installing grates for under-house venting, building and installing external stairs, putting final touches on the trim-work, touch-up painting, sweeping up the house, washing windows, cleaning up the job site of debris, consolidating and inventorying extra materials, etc.

In addition to putting the final touches on several homes, the team prepared a new foundation to receive framing by the next crew of volunteers arriving the following week.

A great deal of work involved shoveling. This included backfilling the foundation after it had been set and the most enjoyable activity ever: installing over 1,500 feet of silt fence to stop erosion around the job-site. The silt fence installation took 3 days and involved digging a trench 8 inches deep by 4 inches wide. Thankfully, "most" of the digging was fairly easy although several sections required breaking through hardened clay where the topsoil had been washed away. The team made a vow to hold a shovel burning ceremony upon returning from the trip!

In total, the team worked on 6 houses, most of which were in their final stage of homeowner readiness.

One of the steps in the process for homeowners to qualify for purchasing housing from Habitat for Humanity is that they must put in 200 hours of work into the house. It was extremely rewarding to meet a prospective homeowner, a single mom who had quite a ways to go to complete her hours, while trying to balance work and taking care of her kids. The team asked Habitat for Humanity if their hours could be contributed to her time given the circumstances. They said they would check into this.

As a reminder, hurricane Katrina, followed shortly thereafter by hurricane Rita, hit "way back" in 2005. That said, the RECOVERY EFFORT IS FAR FROM COMPLETE. A drive along the Mississippi Gulf Coast area reveals houses that remain boarded up and lots with foundations where houses previously stood. The situation begs the question: where are the families that used to live there?

The team heard many stories of people still living in sub-standard conditions. For example, a family living in a storage container next to their condemned house. Due to the lack of resources to rebuild, the father dutifully goes to work each day only to come home to his wife and kids living in a metal box.

Finally, the most rewarding experience was driving through neighborhoods where the team from the First Baptist Church, Hudson, NH, had built houses in prior years. Seeing children playing in clean neighborhoods amongst new houses made it all worth it!

If you have it in your heart to assist others in need, please consider hooking up with the charitable organization of your choice to donate your resources (time and/or money). The reality is that if you are reading this article you are very likely blessed with MUCH MORE than those so desperately in need.

In closing, the volunteers listed above would like to thank all those who supported the cause. In addition to the trip being completely funded (covering ALL travel expenses), there is a surplus of funding which will be used on a future mission trip, or otherwise support those in need.

Managing the Customer Experience - A Case Study Part 5
by Craig Bailey

This is the final installment of our 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 methods to obtain and leverage the Voice of the Customer. In this article, we share one approach PTC is taking to continuously evolve from being highly responsive to proactive, thereby pre-empting negative customer situations.

As previously stated, enterprise software packages (CRM, ERP, PLM, etc.) are highly complex in and of themselves. Couple that with the nuances within each company in which they are deployed and the complexities and risk can increase exponentially. We previously covered PTC's Enterprise Deployment Center (a highly skilled team made up of cross-functional resources) that PTC put in place to engage on escalated customer situations. While this serves as a highly responsive method to get customers back on track in a timely manner, the next step is to become more proactive by identifying risk areas in advance and taking steps to mitigate these risks.

To accomplish this objective, PTC seeks to identify risk areas early in the project lifecycle. And, if present, the customer receives heightened attention. Key risk areas can include new product launch, solution complexity, customer infrastructure, global requirements, etc.

Once it is determined that a system deployment has any number of these risk factors, the Enterprise Deployment Center is engaged. The Enterprise Deployment Center then reviews the risk areas and makes mitigation recommendations in partnership with the Service delivery team. The objective is to try to mitigate the identified risk areas before they become "RED" accounts as part of a formal escalation process. An analogy is the use of a fire officer to advise and guide on prevention techniques in order to avoid, hopefully, the need for the fire truck in the future.

As reported by Mark Hodges: "All of our experiences from prior implementation projects are serving to ensure that future deployments (with similar complexities) are more effectively handled. In addition, by engaging our most seasoned resources up front (on high risk projects), we are able to identify and mitigate new risks that are unique to the project (software deployment and the specific customer infrastructure). This has had a direct impact on customer satisfaction and our own operational efficiency."

In closing, effectively managing the customer experience does not just happen because management "says so." Rather, it requires:

  • Ensuring executive oversight and engagement on key customer issues
  • Closing the loop between the front-line and R&D/Engineering
  • Formalizing a "Tiger Team" of highly seasoned resources to respond immediately to escalated customer situations
  • Obtaining and effectively leveraging the "Voice of the Customer"
  • Putting in place measures to identify risks early and becoming ever more proactive

Stay tuned for the whitepaper on this topic that will result from consolidating the individual articles into a single useful case study for your reference.

In the meantime, if you wish to improve the practices at your company for managing the customer experience and would like assistance in doing so, feel free to give us a call. We have worked with numerous companies across a diverse set of industries, doing just this. Effectively managing the customer experience isn't rocket science. However, it does take dedicated focus that can often be difficult to accomplish with internal resources, all of whom have a "day job" involving responding to the next customer's need or issue. Customer Centricity can bring focus to this crucial objective and help you make demonstrable progress in very short order! Just ask some of our customers.

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.



+ Helping Those in Need...Again

+ Managing the Customer Experience - Case Study Part 5


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