Monthly Archives: November 2010

How would you change an organization from internally-focused to customer-focused?

For organizations of all types, adapting to continually higher customer expectations is becoming much more than a “smart thing to do.” It’s becoming a prerequisite for staying competitive. And that’s the problem.

Many organizations don’t really want to become customer-driven. They want to stay in “win-lose” mode with themselves on top. So even if morphing into a customer-focused organization was “easy,” these organizations would struggle.

But making this migration is anything but easy for even companies eager to make the transition. In addition to adopting customer-centric business strategies and training employees to put customer interests first, getting there requires infrastructure change – organizational design, business processes and enabling technology. Not change but CHANGE.

If you were thrust into leadership of a company under market pressure to become seriously customer-driven – or handed a senior consulting role to lead change – where would you start building the customer-centric organization? Where’s the end of the tangled ball of string?

IMHO all three elements are equally important, but they have to happen in proper sequence. Process comes first. Without knowing what work the organization needs to do how to meet customer expectations, how can you create organizational structures appropriate for delivering the work? You can’t. And likewise, how can technology enable process that’s yet to be designed?

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Then let me ask another question? Why do so few companies get it right?

Please visit HYM’s newly-formed Linkedin group, Building the Customer-Centric Organization.

Does redesigning process to cut waste produce similar outcomes to redesigning process to improve customer experience?

Before you protest, I do understand that waste-cutting process approaches can be applied for the benefit of customers. But here’s the difference I’d like to highlight.

Waste-eliminating approaches change internal operations – albeit increasingly to benefit customers. In contrast, customer-experience focused approaches changes what happens at points of customer contact and works its way back inside the company, almost in concentric rings. While customer-sensitive, waste-focused process approaches work from inside the company outwards towards customers, trying to add more customer value at every step – customer experience process methods move in the opposite direction.

I’ve designed process both ways, depending on context. But I do find the outcomes radically different – with customer-experience-based process design triggering far more organizational change and involving much more application-layer technology support (which is not appropriate for every context).

How does my experience square with your hands-on process work? And I hope this doesn’t sound exclusionary, but this is such a ground-level experience that I’m especially interested in comments from experienced process practitioners who have “been there,  seen that” for themselves.