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Posts Tagged ‘customer experience’

Do You Have a Customer-Driven Process Enterprise?

April 7th, 2013 Comments off

Every company says they want to satisfy their customer. They talk about customer surveys and gathering the Voice of the Customer. They might even have allocated responsibility for collecting and analyzing this information.

But looking past what is being said, how can you tell if your organization is doing the things? How can you tell if you are really there? In essence, let’s define what constitutes a Customer-Driven Enterprise.

Download Business Process Management (BPM) Overviewour BPM Overview presentation

 In our experience, when we have seen strong performance related to customer relationships, we have observed the following characteristics;

  • A focus on process rather than on functions. The reason for this is simple – when you focus on process you focus on resolving the causes of problems and you measure upstream metrics that give early warnings. When you see organizations focused on functions, its usually an indication of the desire to fix or deflect blame. Also, it is when you see a neglect of process that you see lagging indicators such as financial measures dominating attention.
  • Employees know and accept their roles in the processes they either own or of which they are a member. In addition to their recognition, you see their incentive systems tied to the customer metrics. Beware of incentive systems solely tied to financial measures. There is no surer way to take your eye off the customer and develop a short term focus.
  • Everyone understands how the organization’s processes are operating. People know how things fit. They don’t just look at their process or their role in a process but they begin to understand and relate to how the processes are linked. When people focus on the linkages, there is less white space and fewer hidden processes.
  • Processes are measured objectively and measures are reported regularly. In other words, it’s not about the blame and there aren’t any secrets.

If you aren’t there, what do you have to do to achieve that state? Well first there are some prerequisites. An organization needs to bring together all its initiatives under one umbrella responsible for the business’ improvements. Next they need to communicate the seriousness of the need. One of the best ways to do that is to put the customer information in front of the process owners. Too many times the customer data is hidden. People are given just what the organization believes they need to know to do their jobs. The customer data, especially the most unpleasant, which by the way is the most motivating, is locked up so no one knows the bad news…but that just means no one knows the need to change. Finally, leadership must make their commitment. (See Leadership Steps in Becoming a Customer Driven Process Enterprise).

With prerequisites in place, the organization is ready to reorient ifself. Our process is based upon a system where we emphasize (i) Establish, (ii) Deploy, (iii) Implement and (iv) Review. We will get into that four step process in our next Customer Driven Enterprise article. In the meantime, identify if you are a customer driven organization and, if not, set the foundation on which to build. If you would like to discuss, contact me.

Leadership Steps in Creating a Customer-Driven Process Enterprise

February 13th, 2013 2 comments

Everyone in an organization has a responsibility and something to contribute to Process Management.  Executives, Process Owners and Process Team Members all have a role to play to create a Customer-Driven Process Enterprise.  But leadership’s role is the most impactful in truly achieving the end state.

Leaders need to have a map in their mind and understand their vital role.  They should know the foundation they can lay, the steps along the way and how to identify when they have arrived.  But first and foremost, they must understand what they can do as individuals and buy into those actions.

Download BPM Overview PresentationOur BPM Overview Presentation.

So what personal role must leadership take to create a customer-driven process enterprise?  We believe those steps are as follows:

  • Demonstrate commitment.
    • Stake your own reputation to the transition
    • Commit to the goals in public
    • Adjust reward and recognition programs
  • Commit the required resources
    • Fund in full the up-front investments to get started
    • Dedicate excellent people to the effort
  • Demand participation and engagement
    • Stay personally engaged throughout the process
  • Be passionate about change
    • Talk about it to everybody and get them emotionally engaged

If a leader can’t buy into those steps, don’t go any farther. But if they see the risk worth the reward, they should first focus on building a foundation in the organization which ensures success.  So here are the prerequisites for transitioning to a customer driven process enterprise.

  • Bring all initiatives together under the umbrella of business process management
  • Communicate the seriousness of the need for a customer-driven process enterprise
  • Determine an implementation plan for becoming a customer-driven process enterprise

With a foundation in place, how do you get from point A to point B?  Here are the phases of the process and what you have to do at each step along the way –

  • Stage 1 – Establish.  Set a Vision, Mission and the elements of a balanced scorecard.
  • Stage 2 – Deploy. Identify Key Business Processes and their Process Metrics.
  • Stage 3 – Implement. Provide Process Owners and Team Members the support to establish a management system which measures actual results, gaps to the desired state and actions by which to improve.
  • Stage 4 – Review.  Evaluate and tie performance evaluation and rewards to how the management system operates.

Download BPM Scorecards executive briefDownload our new executive brief discussing scorecards as part of BPM.

Often, you work so hard at something that it is difficult to know when you’ve realized your goal.  Keep in mind the goal isn’t simply achieving the numbers established for process metrics.  The goal is a cultural shift that orients the company to the customer using processes.  So how do you know when you’ve arrived.  When all is said and done, you’ll know you are there when you see the following –

  • More focus on processes than on functions
  • Employees know and accept process goals
  • Everybody understands how the processes are performing
  • Processes are measured objectively and frequently

So if you are a leader in an organization, or working closely with one, think about whether you exhibit those last four bullet points today.  And if your organization doesn’t, ask whether you need to before one of your competitors does.  If the answers tell you to start changing, feel free to contact me to begin your efforts.  In the meantime, if you want more information, see the complimentary downloads featured in this article.  Upon download, we’ll follow up to offer a complimentary copy of our two day course “Establishing the Strategic Vision” which gets into much deeper reviews of all my points above.

Why VOC and Customer Experience are Front and Center

December 26th, 2012 Comments off

We recently completed an historic business cycle.  Before the Great Recession, our last major recession was in the early 1980’s.  From one major trough to the other, there were bumps such as in the early ‘90’s and post 9/11.  But for the most part, we enjoyed a very long expansion.  So much wealth was created during that time that a new customer emerged in both the business and consumer sectors.  Unprecedented liquidity put money in everyone’s pockets and they spent it.  Bigger homes and cars ensued for consumers. Expansion of offices to house a growing service economy went with it.  And as these consumers and corporate customers came into their own, businesses grew to know and serve them with increasing process capability.  The customers matured and businesses with their processes followed.

But the fundamentals have changed.  We have spent years healing.   Balance sheets have been restructured.  Personal debt has been reduced.  Housing continues to rebound.  We are now back to building long term wealth as a nation again.  This means much of our economy will have to change including the goods and services we bought.   And so the customers’ requirements must be reacquired, the goods and services redesigned and the processes that delivered those goods and services must be rebuilt.

Download “Voice of the Customer – Deployment & Maturity Model”

And with so much slack capacity in the economy, aligning ourselves with that dramatically changed customer moves to the fore as the most critical and immediate link in a value added chain.  It is just natural that what we need most when an economy is humming at full capacity with escalating input costs is quite different than when we have considerable slack and declining commodity demand.

As the Great Recession continued, we took this thesis to our customers and spoke to them about the challenges in their businesses.  We discovered they felt this pain acutely.  We began to work with them to accelerate their ability to listen to their customers, interpret what they heard, respond to the messages and monitor their responses.  We learned the most successful companies are making those factors part of everyday work.  These companies have completely devoted themselves to orientating to either new customers or their existing customers new demands.   A maturity model developed to assess where they are and what they need to do to go to the next level.

If you’d like to discuss what we have learned and how we developed our model, contact me.

Voice of the Customer (VOC) vs. Voice of the Customer (VOC) ??

September 9th, 2011 1 comment

For service organizations seeking to grow, excellent service delivery of existing offerings instills trust with the customer. That trust is the cornerstone to successfully launching new services. But the goodwill of that trust can only be leveraged if new service offerings provide NEW value. And excellence in what you do doesn’t guarantee providing that new value. To put it another way, doing something well for someone doesn’t mean you will add value in everything new you can think of or be asked to do for them in the future.
What is common between delivering on current services and new services is the ability to execute. What is different is that the Voice-of-the-Customer (VOC) is well defined in the former case and has yet to be defined in the latter. Defining VOC well is a function of listening well. Execution and listening are critical to both situations. Execution has the same definition in both cases. But the two situations call for two different types of listening.

How does the listening differ? Well, in Service Delivery the target had been acquired at the time of the sale. Therefore, you are listening to determine if you are hitting the target and, if not, how you’re missing and by how much.  In the case of new service design, you are trying to acquire the target. When delivering existing services, customer requirements are well known and VOC must be collected on how well you are performing vis a vis those requirements. With new services, you are more heavily involved in defining customer requirements.

Download a short training module that discusses Critical to Customer Requirements a short training module that discusses Critical to Customer Requirements


Too often, I see companies launch new services with confidence based on their ability to stay tuned to a specific target and hit it consistently only to fail with a new service launch. The reason they failed is that they never properly defined the new target. Staying on a target and finding a new target are really very different.

For Service Delivery, the primary “listening” or “targeting” challenge is how to (i) monitor VOC and (ii) convert VOC to Critical to Quality. To launch new services, the primary “listening” or “targeting” challenge is to define the value to be delivered per the customer or define Critical to Customer Requirements.

In the end, service delivery VOC is about how to understand your processes while the VOC needed to successfully launch new services is about understanding the customer’s unexpressed needs.

If you would like to discuss, contact me directly.

Voice of the Customer (VOC) – Can You Hear Me Now?

August 5th, 2011 Comments off

Voice of the Customer (VOC)Verizon Wireless “Can you hear me now?” commercials hit home because in our increasingly mobile connected lives we live that moment so many times. Verizon’s implicit message is that not only will you be heard on their network but that they hear you. We all want to be heard and we are frustrated when ignored.

We live that moment when we question whether we are being heard in many other ways including as consumers and business customers. How often do we feel as if we are asking the people from whom we buy goods and services both personally and professionally “Can you hear me now?” How often do we feel as if we are ignored, misunderstood or altogether treated like a dropped call! What do we do when we feel that way? I know what I do. I move to another network. I move to one that will listen to me.

Let’s now reverse the question. As a product or service provider, ow well do we listen? Are we so busy with what we wish to accomplish that we are forget our goal in business, which is to meet client or customer requirements. I recently heard an individual involved in a performance improvement program discussing the need for Voice of the Customer, VOC, as he explained his management scorecard and projects. When asked if he’d reviewed either with a major customer, he replied that they’d given him a scorecard but he’d neither used it or presented his because his system was still immature. I took a double-take. He’d been handed the VOC he sought but failed to realize it as such as he was focused on his ability to execute. Tell me

– would a hunter increase the amount of venison he had for the winter if he could shoot straight but couldn’t find his quarry? I think he’d have a cold, hungry winter. Good VOC helps your business see the target.

Download a short training module that discusses Critical to Customer Requirements a short training module that discusses Critical to Customer Requirements

If you want to judge the ability to execute, we have lots of qualitative observations and quantitative measures with which to make an assessment. Do you have the same so as to assess your ability to listen? Do you know whether or not you are really listening to the voice of the customer? We feel that just as there is a maturity model for the ability to execute improvement, there is a maturity model for the ability to listen. If you’d like to hear more and discuss how you listen to your customer, please contact me. We always like to listen to you.