A very old question, a very new Answer


Share on LinkedIn

At a recent senior executive seminar we were discussing the theme of Successful Customer Outcomes (SCO) and one question which cut to the quick deserves more after thought. Picture a dark, dingy Victorian meeting room in central London, the sleet slapping against the windows and it is late on a October afternoon.

The bright spot? A series of animated discussions around the usefulness (or not) of IT, the struggle with different process methods and the ongoing challenge of aligning our strategies with SCOs. OK you have the backdrop – here is the question from a COO in a large retail company…

“How can we make sure our people follow through and continually deliver the right thing? So often our initiatives start well and then people take their eye off the ball.” Nods of acknowledgement and congruence and even someone muttering that people just don’t get it, no matter what motivational stuff is tried.

And then a spirited response from a progressive Airline Executive (think geography and go where the birds go in a Northern US Winter) and his suggestion was so simple it was surprising that so few get it. “Well we reward for success. That is the achievement of the SCO and everyone in our company is linked to that goal. And I mean everyone right on down from the CEO to the newest trainee and college recruit.”

It set the room into a frenzy of debate, some folks insisting they do that already, others asking for more detail and some saying tried that and still failed. Airline Executive continued sensing he had something of major interest to contribute, “you see everything you do through the experience and expectation of the customer. I know we have talked about that for years but how often do we follow through, even on things like ‘Voice of the Customer’ in Lean and Six Sigma we paid lip service to the effort to truly understand and articulate everything through the SCO.” He had everyone’s attention now and continued, “Once you get started and have a clear explanation of your SCO ask yourself the question ‘is everything we are doing aligned with achieving this SCO?” – if it isn’t challenge it and ultimately “stop doing the dumb stuff.”

We then had a thirty minute brainstorm of relevant SCOs to realize that at the start there are more than a few, lots in fact. Some apparent SCOs are simply not so. Take the one suggested by a well meaning banker “To deliver credit cards on time within budget.” Initially that creates an illusion of working towards mutual success but on closer examination this one is ‘inside out’ and really doesn’t care too much about the customer. The real SCO revolves around creating the capability for a customer to use their facility in a simple trouble free way. When you think of it ‘outside-in’ that takes you to a whole new place with a set of new answers to some very old questions.

The discussion was in danger of running over time so we all took a way a brief to ‘search and deploy’ our respective SCOs knowing that our first efforts would be iterative and a learning experience.

Our next meeting then focused on helping people align to the SCO and doing as the Airline Executive proposed – rewarding folks for achieving those SCOs.
How would you do that?

The principles above are derived from direct experience and research within world leading companies. Prospective Certified Process Professionals gain full exposure to the techniques, tools and CEMMethod(tm) in the Business Professional programme.

Steve Towers
A seasoned practitioner with over 30 years of hands-on experience, Steve Towers is one of industry's noted experts in BPM, Customer Expectation Management and Performance transformation. Towers heads the Research & Professional Services network within the BP Group, the world's first and premier network for Process & Performance professionals.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here