Executives are bombarded with ideas from within the company and for external ‘experts’ on how to improve business performance. It’s no wonder they often feel like rabbits dazzled by the headlights. So what is the one thing that will really make a difference? Aligning the organization behind the business goals. Sound corny and simple? Then why do organizations still set conflicting measures between sales, marketing and customer service? Why do employees feel like punch bags; beaten up because they did what was right for the customer and not what the policy or metrics demanded. Why do employees feel dizzy from the almost constant changes in strategy? Why do politics and functional conflicts still rule organizations?
What makes alignment virtually impossible is that the dimension representing the customer is completely missing from organizations. Because we always operated in supply economies where we developed products which marketing promoted, sales sold and service supported, we didn’t need to understand how it all joined up. However we are now in a demand economy where markets are deregulated and competition is rife. In this economy customers have global reach, are very demanding and increasingly transient. Without a customer dimension organizations have no idea how aligned or otherwise they are and the resultant impact on the customer experience – though customers always see it. It also means the organization cannot see the impact on alignment of planned investments (operational or capital). This may explain why investments seldom delivers the expected return. It also explains how one organization invested millions in process design and brand development only to see customer and employee satisfaction fall following their deployment.
The question is not “Are you customer-centric?” Any organization that provides products and services to customers is customer-centric to some degree – however product obsessed. The question is: “How customer centric do you need to be and how do you align the business at the level?”
Does this resonate with you as a customer or employee? Then please submit a response or better still provide examples of how it impacts businesses, employees or customers. With your help we can get this debate into the open where it belongs and really make a difference.