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
Aligning the resources of your organization
Effectively respond to the ever-changing needs of the
Building mutually profitable relationships
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
ALL personnel in your firm
Your operating practices and procedures
Your systems (internal/back-office and
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
Demonstration of being customer centric in day-to-day
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
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
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
RFP Response Management Clear and concise requirements combined with
response templates will allow an efficient response evaluation and
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
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
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
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
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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View previous newsletters
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.
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
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