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Customer-Centric Horizontal Management

11 Aug, 2008 By: Rick Graves imageSource

Customer-Centric Horizontal Management

I have spoken often on increasing your share of the wallet by establishing
"trusted relationships" and developing your Customer Experience Management
capabilities.  It is essential to identify, define and deliver the best
experiences your customers expect. Yet to do this, you must look at how you
approach customer opportunities from within your business, identifying how you
can effectively work horizontally to achieve key common goals.

Silo vs Horizontal Styles

Today's focus on cost-cutting and efficiency gains creates an atmosphere of
silo management, along with the metrics that drive this behavior. Many companies
are not only structured this way,  but compensation models, product & solution
development, delivery & customer experiences are managed in this same capacity. 
I'm not suggesting this isn't effective, but the need to define and deliver a
more horizontal or "end-to-end" customer experience to compliment this approach
can yield additional results. Here’s a way to correlate both customer centric
and business results (customer loyalty, revenue growth, market share, etc.), 
redefining your balance sheet.

Inefficiency or Opportunity

As individual organizations within a company work to develop and deliver
products and services, they often miss the bigger opportunity to define and
deliver these in a collective manner. Taking the time to define the needs and
associated solutions from an end-to-end perspective will not only help to
deliver experiences to customers that are seamless and most meaningful, but will
help to identify many internal inefficiencies along the way.  This takes the
discipline to work outside your silo, and partner with organizations across the
business as well as Channel Partners and customers when appropriate. The
expertise and insight that can be shared and leveraged across the business to
define and develop solutions is virtually untapped in today's environment. What
and how you deliver to your customers will leverage this expertise and insight,
and importantly, build end-to-end support for your solutions.

I'm sure you can identify many situations where a product or service is just
about ready to be introduced or "go-live" - and inefficiencies can often begin
to surface. These range from gaps and disconnects between processes, incorrect
expectations with Channel Partners and customers, conflicting change requests
with IT, and in worse case scenarios, Ineffective Customer and Partner
experiences that will cost time and money to remediate, not to mention lost

Approach and Alignment

Once you approach business from an end-to-end perspective, it's something
that's repeatable moving forward. It may require some changes to your internal
"go to market" models, organization and culture (in terms of approach and
adoption), and identifying who (or what) groups drive this within the company,
but it's well worth the effort.  Another key is to align with other proven
disciplines inside your business (i.e., Six Sigma, Lean Sigma, Quality, etc.).
They’ll not only help drive the deployment of this end-to-end solution, but
become more customer-centric with their project selection and results. In a
typical company, these resources are only focused on internal improvement
efforts, and measured only by dollars saved. Every company is at a different
level in terms of end-to-end or customer-centric readiness, and might require
awareness of this approach before they can establish effective partnerships.

Moving Forward

Fortunately, many of these individual teams and components exist today as
Research, Customer Intelligence, Measurement, Learning and Development, Customer
Loyalty Index, Net Promoter Score, Human Factors Engineering, User-Centered
Design, etc. However, they exist and operate in an independent or fragmented
fashion (at best). These capabilities certainly fit within your overall business
framework and are most likely visible in your strategies, but it should be an
integrated system. Each organization should understand and see where they fit,
and how they collectively contribute to the development and delivery of
end-to-end experiences and solutions. This will also provide the support and
momentum you need to drive your company’s specific customer and business
initiatives forward.

The right tools, methods, training, and the timeliness of just when to use
them, will depend on your specific situation and what your company is ready to
accomplish. Communicating via proven success stories will also help to gain
adoption, or change the mindset to embed these as disciplines within your
company’s corporate culture.

For more information on Customer Experience Management and design
capabilities and applications, please contact Rick Graves at:  rgraves@corebrand.com


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