Perfecting Service Management

Issue #56

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Message from CCI President Craig Bailey

I invite you to join me at the upcoming 7th Annual Voice of the Customer Conference, December 7-9th in San Francisco. This event, a joint initiative between The Product Development & Management Association (PDMA) and The Institute for International Research (IIR), will provide guidance and lessons for gaining a clear and detailed understanding of customer wants and needs. I will be presenting on the topic, "Leveraging the Voice of the Customer to Maximize Business Results," where we will share practical approaches for assimilating feedback from all customer touch-points and learn how customer feedback is "most crucial" to remaining competitive in this dynamic marketplace.

As a special offer, please mention the registration priority code: SPKRM1639CB and receive a 15% discount off the standard conference fees. To register, please call 888.670.8200, email, or visit the website

Becoming Customer Centric - Voice of the Customer
by Craig Bailey

In our first edition on the series Becoming Customer Centric, we provided the definition of Customer Centricity as having three main parts:

  • Aligning the resources of your organization
  • Effectively respond to the ever-changing needs of the customer
  • Building mutually profitable relationships

In this edition we will begin discussing an approach to "Effectively respond to the ever-changing needs of the customer." To effectively respond to your customers' needs, you first must know what they are. You need to ask for and obtain this information by direct and indirect means, then you must respond. To begin, we present a Voice-of-the-Customer (VoC) process, a pragmatic approach to discovering and effectively responding to the ever-changing needs of the customer.

A VoC process is a multi-faceted methodology to leverage customer input (obtained directly or indirectly) to serve as a significant source of input to your decision-making and continuous improvement (process/systems improvement, product development, account management, etc.) efforts. These efforts could be at the macro (organization-wide) level or micro (customer specific) level. In fact, many attributes of the VoC process are practices that firms typically have in place already. However, when taken in tandem (as an overall VoC program), the results can have an exponentially positive effect on your efforts to become customer centric.

Following are the key aspects of the VoC process we will outline:

o Obtain the Pulse of the Customer
o Involve the Customer
o Analyze Information
o Socialize Results
o Implement Customer-Focused Changes
o Respond to the Customer

This is meant to be an iterative and cyclical process. Additionally, a firm will typically elect to implement those VoC attributes that make the most sense at that particular point in time (biggest bang for the buck), and subsequently implement additional attributes to evolve their VoC program. Finally, performance of the VoC process requires operational discipline as there are a set of tasks and activities to be performed on a periodic (typically monthly or quarterly) basis.

This series will identify the typical sources of direct and indirect customer input and examine how they interrelate and can be leveraged as part of a formalized VoC program. As such, we will expand upon each area and attribute outlined above in a logical progression, tying together the integrated VoC program.

In closing, customer input/feedback is critical to support your decision-making process. Companies typically review market trends to look for opportunities to augment their product and service offerings with the hope of capturing "new revenue" from "new customers." This is often done without an understanding of what could be achieved for "new revenue" from the existing customer base, or learning from the experience of existing customers about ways to meet the needs of new customers that exist in the market.

In our next edition we will discuss the first topic above: "Obtain the Pulse of the Customer."

View previous articles in this series.

A Data-Driven Approach to IT Management
by Joseph Prosser and David Osborn
Senior Consultants, NOCManage

This is the first article in a series exploring an approach to managing network operations. Having been building and managing network operations for over 10 years, we have seen the same underlying challenges occurring almost everywhere. In this series of articles, we will describe these challenges, along with a repeatable methodology developed to overcome them that we call Data-Driven Operations. These challenges can be broken down into three main categories: application-based, informational, and procedural.

The applications typically in use in network operations include one or more network management systems (NMS), a ticketing system, DNS, and other support systems. Many times, they are not integrated and cannot talk to each other. Because of this, they do not share the same configuration source. This means that people have to maintain multiple versions of the same information, which can lead to error. One approach to addressing this is to have a common data store that is used to populate all these applications.

Keeping track of configuration data is critical to the effective management of any size network. Network data management is more than just asset tracking, as it also includes information about how devices are connected, deployed, and maintained. This knowledge is worth far more than the assets themselves, though the value is difficult to quantify. The knowledge is what allows your business to function, so it's more easily valued by looking at the cost of losing that information. Unfortunately if this value is not realized and network data management is not a priority, then the data, if stored at all, is outdated or inconsistent. An approach to solving this is to have operation procedures in place that ensure this information is stored when the related activity is performed.

Standard operating procedures are a requirement for effective operations management. They are the only way to ensure that knowledge about a process is available to the entire organization and that processes are executed consistently over time. The reality is that operating procedures are frequently ignored, stale, or unavailable. This may be because the procedures themselves are onerous or are hard to maintain or that people do not have an incentive to follow them exactly. Penalties for not following procedures are one solution, but are usually not ideal. A better solution is to increase the level of automation, leveraging a centralized and easily accessible data store.

Disparate systems, bad data, and inefficient/inconsistent operating procedures directly impact your customers they experience elongated outages and/or performance problems that may have been resolved more quickly with accurate/integrated data and processes. The Data-Driven Operations methodology is a framework for addressing this stay tuned for more details in the next edition.


+ Becoming Customer Centric
+ A Data-Driven Approach to IT Management
+ Recommended Reading
+ Speaking Engagements


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Recommended Reading
This week's recommended reading, CRM Magazine article
Best Practices for Solving the Self-Service Paradox
, by Allen Bonde, discusses the customer self-service paradox. Companies must strike the right balance of creating customer relationships and achieving operational efficiencies. As products and services become more complex, self-service tools must keep up with the complexity in order to keep customers satisfied with service. There are many benefits to customer self-service, even beyond operational efficiencies, but poor implementation will likely decrease efficiency and customer satisfaction.

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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