Perfecting Service Management

Issue #54

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Becoming Customer Centric
by Craig Bailey

In the prior edition of our newsletter, we provided a definition of becoming customer centric: "Aligning the resources of [your organization] to effectively respond to the ever-changing needs of the customer, while building mutually profitable relationships." We then broke this definition down into its three parts:

  1. Aligning the resources of your organization
  2. Effectively respond to the ever-changing needs of the customer
  3. Building mutually profitable relationships

In this edition we will begin to discuss the element of "Aligning the resources of your organization."

To start, let's confirm which "resources" of your organization we are talking about. Is it just the customer service team? No. How about sales and service? No, it ultimately reaches in to every organization of your firm. Does the definition just include your personnel? No. In short, the resources of your organization that are within the scope of this definition include:

  • ALL personnel in your firm
  • Your operating practices and procedures
  • Your systems (internal/back-office and external-facing)
  • Your products and services

Each of the above has a direct impact on your ability to become customer centric. With this in mind, let's discuss a key element of aligning the personnel in your firm. Aligning your personnel resources requires constant reinforcement of what it means to be customer centric. This includes:

  • Demonstration of being customer centric in day-to-day decision making
  • Recognizing and rewarding customer centric behavior
  • Providing frequent (at least every week or two) updates on progress being made towards becoming customer centric to all staff using all modes of communication (email, group meetings, etc.)
  • Providing customer centric training to ALL members of your organization

A simple and fun way of providing this reinforcement can be to publish a periodic (weekly/bi-weekly) "Customer Centric Tips" email to your staff. Here are some thoughts on how to leverage this approach. On a daily basis, you and other members of your staff are making observations of your firm's performance and approach of working with the customer. Occasionally, you will observe an "incident" that would serve as a good case-study for the organization NOT being customer centric. We have found it effective to take this incident and "genericize" it, so that parties involved are not implicated in any way, and outline what was done and how it could have been done more appropriately to fulfill on your customer centric vision. A key aspect is that these messages be viewed as a means for collective learning, not for blaming or finger-pointing. Therefore, use care in your selection of examples and your accounting of them; make it a "fun" read, so that people look forward to opening these messages and reading the lesson learned so that they can apply such lessons in their daily work.

In subsequent editions of our newsletter, we will explore other aspects of aligning the personnel resources to the customer centric vision.

View previous articles in this series.

Exploring Outsourcing: Implementation
by Kurt Jensen

As the first article in this series acknowledged, exploring the outsourcing of any or all facets of a customer service operation can be unnerving. From job security to loss of control, the emotions run the spectrum. The process forces a deep dive into virtually all aspects surrounding the compartmentalization of your service operations, complete with directions in order to describe and eventually train someone else to perform the work. Below is a top level review of where we have been:

Reasons to Consider Outsourcing – Scale, process leverage, capital conservation and core competency focus all combine to impact strategic considerations for your business.

Preparing for a Successful Request for Proposal – Ensuring hierarchical consensus, cross functional consensus/notification and agreement upon service quality will help avoid process derailment.

RFP Creation and Distribution – Capturing detailed requirements and presenting a well organized document complete with rules of engagement helps vendors create quality responses while assisting you with response management.

RFP Response Management – Clear and concise requirements combined with response templates will allow an efficient response evaluation and management process.

Pitfalls and Potholes to Avoid – Detailed discussions with individual vendors, consistent deadline enforcement and utilizing pre-response questions circulated to all vendors help create a consistent playing field.

Geography and Pricing Models – Expect a wide variety of pricing models influenced by geography including offshore, near shore, onshore resulting in a per minute, hour or incident based in a shared or dedicated agent environment.

Narrowing the Vendor List – Pre-qualifiers such as vendor compliance, geographic preference, pricing or support models help sort through troves of incoming information.

Oral Interview Management – Preparing in advance for oral presentations by providing vendor preparation questions, an agenda and scheduling an immediate internal group discussion following a vendor presentation will help maximize information gathered at oral presentations.

Facility Site Visits – Focusing on discussions with key personnel, touring the physical premises, observing technology and listening to a few calls will assist you in establishing a comfort level of placing your customers in the hands of the vendor.

Final Analysis and Selection – Avoiding analysis paralysis, asking yourself a basic set of questions, rolling up whatever you can quantify and combining it with your intuition will guide you to a final selection.

Negotiating an Agreement –Items such as cost driver components, forecasting, performance metrics and agreement terms are examples of important agreement essentials.

Implementation – Establishing a hand off date, prioritizing task based activities, and noting the upcoming term with important dates are fundamental steps toward moving through implementation to program management.

Following hand off of the actual function(s), you could take a 'launch and release' approach. However, there is a significant amount of management that needs to take place on a structured and diligent basis. As importantly, you determined your selected outsource vendor as the best of the bunch to service your business. They are truly professionals at utilizing systems, methodologies and staff to achieve your goals. Program Managing the relationship to extract the maximum amount of benefit will be the subject of the next article in this series.

Contact us if you would like to share outsourcing or RFP experience. If you are thinking about outsourcing, we can help you manage the process, while you focus on your business!

View previous articles in this series.


+ Becoming Customer Centric
+ Exploring Outsourcing
+ Recommended Reading
+ Speaking Engagements


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Recommended Reading
This issue's Recommended Reading complements our current series: Becoming Customer Centric. Jason Compton's CRM Magazine article Walking the Customer Centric Walk discusses a recent study that finds that while half of U.S. businesses claim to be customer-centric, far fewer actually achieve success in the key areas (such as practicing effective customer segmentation or regularly measuring customer satisfaction) critical for becoming customer centric.

Speaking Engagements
CCI President Craig Bailey will be a speaker at PDMA's (Product Development and Management Association) 7th Annual "Voice of the Customer" conference on December 7-10, 2004, in San Francisco CA. Presentation materials will be available for download from CCI's website closer to the conference date.

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.

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