Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Focus on focus. Focus on customers.

With all the tweets and posts about 2012 highlights and 2013 predictions out of the way, I’m going to miss headlines like "Mayan’s preferred Microsoft", "Android buys iPhone" and "Big Data eats Samsung CIO at Las Vegas CES". But a heavy dose of reality (two weeks in, how am I going to make the next 50 really count?) has helped me focus on my focus - what does my company, and therefore what do I, do best?

Focus on the customer is the mantra of many of companies. Knowing your customer should be more than knowing where to send the bill. It includes organizing and making available information (not just data) of all types, to the right people, at the right time. What information?

  • what are the customer’s business problems?
  • why did they pick your service, solution or product?
  • would they recommend you?
  • what are their current issues or concerns with your product?
  • when did they last call for support or help?
  • what marketing communications do they receive and respond to?
  • how are they connected to your other customers?
  • are they interested in other products you have?
  • where do we send the bill (and does it get paid on time)?

Customer focus is an information problem for sure. It is also a process problem. The problem is preventing the day-to-day, week-to-week issues from getting in the way of a great customer experience. Put simply, it requires the back-office operations staying nicely hidden in the back-office, not leading your customer to fret about how disorganized you are and having to deal with unnecessary issues. Simply put:

  • are your bills sent on time, for the correct products, to the right place?
  • is there an easy process for changing changing details?
  • can customer support issues be easily tracked?
  • are renewals and updates handled automatically?

Customer focus requires giving employees the power to service customers well. Your systems must support employees with all the information they need to make good decisions, and taking some of the load off them by automating some of the repetitive things that nobody really wants to do. Put this into a package and call it Customer Relationship Management or Case Management if you need a software industry term for it.

Recognizing how to change processes, information and technology is something that is hard to do when you and your employees are stuck in the middle of doing their jobs. An independent, outside-in view is often needed to recognize opportunities to work better and improve customer focus.

Follow me on twitter @consected and Google+ for updates on process, information and technology.

A post from the Improving It blog
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