Monthly Archives: November 2011

Should Politicians Regard Voters as Customers – Why So or Why Not?

Next year, U.S. political candidates will bombard U.S. voters with unprecedented numbers of political messages emanating from an unprecedented number of communication sources. These politicians and their communicators arm themselves with scads of data slicing and dicing the voting populace into a myriad of overlapping cells – and even individual households. These data tell them where and where not to campaign, depending on demographics, psychographics, past voting patterns and the like. And they will even help candidates decide what to say – in person, on the stump.

Nonetheless, political communication is almost all single message “push.” Candidates and their handlers craft messages to appeal to the entire mass populace – not little cells, never mind individuals. Just like marketers do, and we all know most marketers aren’t the most customer-friendly types. And when the winners get to wherever they’re going, they’re driven by percentages, not people – and by the loudest voices, never the most thoughtful. This is one reason there’s such a politician – voter gap, with voters constantly unhappy they “didn’t get what they voted for” – because politicians don’t understand what they really want.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful instead if politicians actually practiced the two-way communication they brag about every time they say, “I listen to my constituents.” Yeah, right. And that the common interests of diverse but reasoned voices drove their votes, as should happen in a democracy. You know – becoming voter-centric by hearing all voices instead of counting the loudest, and by putting themselves in voter shoes and actually walking the voters’ walk.

Or would it be all that wonderful?

Problems Implementing Customer-Centric Process Reflect a Larger problem

We can talk customer-centric process specifically until we’re blue in the face, but if we can’t manage process in general it’s all talk. In among the best blog posts I’ve read in memory, Thomas Olbrich of Taraneon Consulting in Hamburg picks up on a conversation comparing U.S and European process we started several years back – and elevates it to a new level of perception. If you’re wondering why implementing customer-centric process is so tough, you must read Thomas’ incisive remarks.

A lightly edited excerpt:

“BPM in US companies has two extreme positions and practically no middle ground: either processes are a top management topic, but as an abstract concept only; or, process lives only at the business analyst and operations level – lots of work in the trenches of daily business but so buried beneath methods and tools process fails to get noticed. Accountability for processes? Nada. Process organisation? Nada. Middle management as the link between business strategy and processes? Doesn’t exist.

“By contrast continental Europe prides itself on its wait and see approach (nastier minds than mine would call it complacency or even ignorance) with the consequence that once they do pick up on an idea someone’s bound to come in to tell them that it’s old hat and they should be looking at what’s new instead.”

If you’re wondering why implementing customer-centric process in either continent (and elsewhere, such as in Australia) is so difficult, you must read this.

The Media DID NOT Just Miss a Moment of Customer Triumph

Last week I lamented the lack of media coverage of consumer debit card fee pushback, and I should have been more specific and said coverage of the consumers who are pushing back, not the banks themselves. No matter, because events proved me wrong, and I’m greatly encouraged by consumer-focused stories that emerged as soon as I said there weren’t any :-).

A spate of pieces appeared last week, covering not only the consumer side but small business as well leaving large banks in droves. AP even chronicled the efforts of a part-time nanny in DC who on her own started an online petition against debit card fees – which attracted 150,000 “signatures.” Another interesting data element – more consumers joined US credit unions in October than during all last year.

Has anyone else encountered interesting media reports?