Can you trust your call centre – a tale of Enterprise lies and unfulfilled expectations.


Are you measuring and rewarding dumb stuff?

A close colleague recently arranged to move some large furniture and being aware of size constraints spent some time researching and contacting various ‘self drive hire’ firms for a suitable vehicle. The best offer was confirmed following a long discussion with sales folks in the Enterprise[1]call center which included comprehensive discussion of specific (height, breadth, width) measures to ensure a good fit. Job done or so my colleague thought.

A few days later they went to collect the vehicle. Armed with a tape measure to double check the details they were shocked to discover the actual measurements were between 15-20% less than the call center really trustworthy sales guy stated. Naturally the van hire didn’t progress however the response of the depot was even more shocking. “Oh yes they do that in the call center to make a sale.” Whoops.
That goes to a point about paying people for achieving the wrong outcomes.
Reward people for doing dumb stuff and they’ll get really smart at it. 
Many times people would be duped and accept the sales persons assurances. It is often too late in the day to change (when you are stood out in the cold and snow) so customers would have to go with it. Not so my colleague who demanded a refund. The depot staff obliged however did say it would take several days to process.
Funny how you can accept $550 one minute and refuse to give it back the next?

What about customer satisfaction?
Well if you measured my colleagues response at the point of call center confirmation using Net Promoter Score[2] it would have been 9 out of 9 (A Promoter) plus a willingness to recommend to a friend. After the depot visit 0 out of 9 and tweets to followers to avoid using Enterprise. So let’s review the measures:

Organization Measures in the call center:

·      Duration of the call – optimum

·      Call experience – excellent

·      Customer Expectations – met and exceeded

Vehicle depot:

·      Reception services – excellent

·      Processing of paperwork – optimum

·      Staff interaction with customer – excellent

·      Payment processing – optimum

·      Vehicle to specifications – Not. Zero. Nil.

How many of the 10 measures are actually aligned to achieving a Successful Customer Outcome[3]?

Perhaps one. And yet Enterprise will award their people for achieving the other nine. What sort of behavior does this create? Well whatever it certainly isn’t geared to achieving Successful Customer Outcomes.

Trust Based Management
Much of this experience comes down to trust. Four questions to ask yourself, your organization, and even perhaps your customers. 

1.     Can you trust your people to do the right thing by the customer?

2.     Can you trust your fellow employees – or are they prepared to lie and deceive for their own self interest?

3.     Do you award for Successful Customer Outcomes (SCO’s)?

4.     What measures could you put in place to evolve more towards (3).

Final thought:
Enterprise’s kicker is “We’ll pick you up” Perhaps it should now be “We’ll let you down”

6 Tips for Understanding Customer Needs, even when they don’t know themselves (with 4 min video and Guide)

6 Tips for Understanding Customer Needs, even when they don’t know themselves

Get your hands on SCO’s. What are they? How can they help?

Need a handy Guide? Download the SCO101 :

Certified Process Professional Masters (CPP-Master) Program
(Orlando US Jan 22-23, Denver US Jan 26-30, London UK Mar 2-6)

An internationally recognised program with proven track record delivered by been there and done it coaches more than 130 times, in 52 cities with delegates from 105 countries.
The program, now in its tenth year, utilizes the BP Groups approaches and framework to help you and your organization win the triple crown – simultaneously reduce costs, grow revenues and enhance service. Producing Immediate and sustainable business results across any industry and sector.

Become a qualified CPP-Master and demonstrate your

PEX USA – another great win for IQPC

PEX week

The annual event in the USA (now in its 15 year) attracts the very best of the community and this year was no exception.

With stimulating speakers and a awesome Awards program* the IQPC team lifted the bar a notch or two higher. which also includes the PEX BP Group Certified Process Professional two day program. 

PEX BPGroup Certified Process Professionals Florida 2014 This year more than 40+ people from across the globe qualified as Certified Process Professionals to join the 25,000 in the least 4 years.

You can already review and sign-up for the next years – which on behalf of the BP Group – I highly recommend at 

Note: For those of you in South East Asia I will be chairing that event in February.
The two day CPP workshop is featured on Monday/Tuesday 24-25 February is a most have for the aspirant business process specialist.

*we are running a feature on the PEX 2014 Awards program later this week.

What Business are you really In?

From the desk of James Dodkins..

Part 4 of 4: There are four distinctly Outside-In ways that you can rethink process and in doing so achieve Triple Crown benefits.

The previous three articles in this four part theme we reviewed ‘Understand and applying Process diagnostics’ , the ‘Successful Customer Outcome’ and ‘Reframing Process for an Outside-In world’.

Now finally we move our attention to the fourth way we can rethink process forever.

Rethinking the Business you are in.

In the Southwest airlines example reviewed earlier we referred to the different viewpoints of the Œbusiness¹ you are in. The two views ­ one the organizations, regarded as inside-out reflect the activities and functions undertaken. So British Airways see themselves in the business of flying airplanes and approach the customer with that product/service in mind. They set about marketing and selling the flights and hope to pull the customers to the product through pricing, availability and placement. In a slowly changing world where customers have little choice this strategy can provide a route to success.

As we have already seen the tables have turned and the enlightened customer demands so much more. Southwest and other Outside-In companies understand this challenge and take a customer viewpoint.

What business would you say these six companies are in: Hallmark Cards, Disney, Zara, AOL, OTIS elevators, China Mobile?  Try it from the customers perspective and you¹ll arrive at a very different answer ­ try these, expression, joy, style and comfort, community, moving people, connectivity.

Yes they are very different and will reframe the way you think of the service and products you provide. Go further and look inside your existing company.

Are you still separated into functional specialist areas providing specific outputs to other departments in the so called Œvalue chain¹? Do you have internal Œservice level agreements¹ that specify what you¹ll deliver and when? How much of our internal interaction adds ultimate value for the customer?

This way of organizing work imposes limitations on our ability to truly deliver successful customer outcomes. The Inside-out viewpoint is inefficient, prone to red tape, is extremely risk adverse (checkers checking checkers) and slow in delivering product and service.

Many inside-out organizations actually regard customers as an inconvenience rather than the reason why they exist.

What business are you REALLY in?

Part 3 of 4: There are four distinctly Outside-In ways that you can rethink process and in doing so achieve Triple Crown benefits.

From the desk of James Dodkins, CCO BP Group.

In the first two articles in this four part theme we reviewed ‘Understand and applying Process diagnostics’ and the ‘Successful Customer Outcome’ map. We now move our attention to the third way we can rethink process forever

Re-framing process for an Outside-In world

A fundamental principle of Outside-In is the understanding of where your process starts and ends.

In the 20th century many techniques and approaches developed to better understand and create processes. In its earliest form pioneering work undertaken by the United States Airforce created modelling approaches based on the Structured Analysis and Design Technique (SADT) that produced iDEF (Integrate DEFinition Methods).

iDEF became recognised as a global standard as a method designed to model the decisions, actions, and activities of an organization or system[1].  iDEF as a method has now reached iDEF14 [i] and embraces a wide range of process based modelling ideas. Concurrent with the development of iDEF technology providers created proprietary modelling approaches, and subsequently developed into modelling language standards, used by many organisations to represent their systems and ways of working.

The convergence of business process modelling and business process management (BPM) has now produced a rich set of tools and techniques able to model and ideally manage an organisation. In fact one of the more accepted definitions of BPM (based on the British Journal of Management): “Business process management (BPM) is a management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organisation with the wants and needs of clients. It is a holistic management approach”

Until a few years ago process management approaches looked within the boundaries of the organisation and the combination of modelling and management approaches were adequate to understand the enterprise. The impact of process management in improving organisation performance has been profound however we now face a different reality driven by the customer.

As a consequence both disciplines now present a series of problems that include

(a)    understanding the beginning and end of the process,

(b)   the techniques used to model process are inadequate and focused  on the wrong things

Strangely customer involvement in a process often appears as an afterthought and the actual representation systems (left to right, top to bottom) create an illusion that fosters the belief that “the customer isn’t my job”.

Let’s deal with each in turn by example:

a.     The beginning and end of process

To aid the discussion let’s look at two airlines, British Airways and Southwest, and we’ll review how they ‘think’ about their business through the eyes of process. If you sit down with British Airways executives and asked the question “where does your process start and end?” the response reflects the main source of revenue, seat sales.

So the answer “the process is from the ticket purchase to the collecting the bags off the carousel” is no great surprise. In fact that is the way we have mostly thought about process in that it starts when it crosses into organisation, and finishes when it leaves. We can easily model that, identify efficiency improvements, improve throughput and optimise apparent value add.

As far as British Airways is concerned what you do outside of that process is no concern of theirs, after all they are an airline and that’s what they do. Now let’s change our perspective and visit Love Field in Texas and meet the executive team of Southwest. Ask the guys the same question “where does your process start and end?” and the answer is a whole different viewpoint.

The process begins when the potential customer thinks of the need for a flight, and only ends when they are back at home following the journey. The scope of this process is defined by the phrase “the customer experience is the process”. That’s an Outside-In perspective and creates opportunities across the whole customer experience.

More than that it raises the prospect of additional revenue streams, spreads the risk associated with a dependency on seat sales, reinforces the customer relationship and develops an entirely different way of doing business.  So let’s ask another question of our friends at Southwest “guys, what business are you in?”, and the answer changes everything you ever thought about airlines forever “we’re in the business of moving people”.

Downstream Southwest may well turn the industry further on its head as they move from being the low cost airline to the ‘no cost airline’ and give their seats free of charge. What would that do to your business model if 95% of your revenues, as with British Airways, comes from seat sales?

The business challenge for Southwest becomes one of controlling the process to benefit and maximise the customer experience. That involves partnering, sharing information and doing all necessary to make customers lives easier, simpler and more successful.

Now how do you model that?

b.     The techniques used to model process are inadequate and focused on the wrong things

We have reviewed the ultimate cause of work for all organisations is the customer. Organisations exist to serve the customer though the provision of products and services and in this way develops revenue that goes to the profit and onward distribution to the stockholders.

In other organisations without the profit motivation, for instance the public sector, then the effective delivery of services is measured by citizens and stakeholders.  Accordingly it stands to reason that everything happening within the organisation should be organised and aligned to deliver customer success and anything that isn’t is potentially ‘dumb stuff’. The techniques we use to ‘capture’ process are however not suitable to understanding the causes of work and focus attention instead on the visible tasks and activities that are perceived to create value for customers. In the context of the enlightened customer this is at best misleading and at its worst actually part of the broader problem. In Outside-In companies the focus has shifted to understanding the causes of work, and then engineering those causes to minimize negative effects.

Once more to go Outside-In we need a perspective shift and we can achieve this by identifying those three causes of work and then set out to reveal them and their negative impact.

How big is the size of the prize? Efficiency and productivity gains of 30% to 60% are common. Cost reduction of services by 50% is not unusual.

Cause elimination is a seek and destroy mission. It’s the challenge to weed out the “dumb stuff” in our organizations.

By truly fixing the Causes of Work, rather than messing around with the Effects (a bit like moving the chairs on the deck of the Titanic) we will all find our customers and employees life simpler, easier and more successful. Are you ready to challenge your assumptions and start eliminating those causes of work? Fix the Cause, remove the effect.

Delivering success… achieving consensus?!

I was stuck by three of congruences this weekend.

One was Seth Godins nearly always excellent blog.

He covers the theme of extremes. See it here.

That reminded me of the wisdom from George Bernard Shaw:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” 

And the third quote was from pioneer and political reformist
(she scrapped socialism) Margaret Thatcher.

“To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.

So what are you up to this week? Maintaining the status quo? Keeping a balance? Achieving consensus? Or are you changing the world to be a better place? Challenging the flat landers and helping refocus business for a new age?

Think on that over the cornflakes because if you are not part of the solution you may just be the problem!

Part 2 of 4: There are four distinctly Outside-In ways that you can rethink process and in doing so achieve Triple Crown benefits.

From the desk of James Dodkins:In the first article in this four part theme we reviewed ‘Understand and
applying Process diagnostics’. We now move our attention to the second  way
we can rethink process forever –

Identify and aligning to Successful Customer Outcomes“Businesses can be very sloppy about deciding which customers to seek out
and acquire” Frederick F. Reichheld

The six questions we ask ourselves in this iterative process are:
I.    Who is the customer?
At first glance should be an easy answer however it is not as obvious as it
seems. The ultimate customer for any profit making enterprise is the person,
or company who provides the revenue by purchasing the products or services
we produce. It is a matter of fact that in our inside-out legacy world we
have created multiple customer-supplier relationships which include internal
Œservice¹ providers such as Information Services, Human Resources and so on.
In mature Outside-In organizations the internal customer ceases to exist as
we progressively partner to align to Successful Customer Outcomes and
artifacts such as Service Level Agreements become a thing of the past.

II.    What is the Customers current expectation?
The 2006 book ³Customer Expectation Management ³ Schurter/Towers reviewed in
detail the of creating and managing customer expectations and how through
clear articulation companies such as Virgin Mobile in the US redefine their
market place. In the context of the SCO map we need to understand the
customers (as identified in the answer to question 1) current expectation.
This often reveals both a challenge and opportunity. Customers will tell it
as it is, for instance in an insurance claim process ³I expect it is going
to take weeks, with lots of paperwork and many phone calls². That should
tell you the current service is most likely poor and fraught with problems,
delays and expensive to manage however this presents the opportunity. If
that is a market condition (all insurance claims are like this) then moving
to a new service proposition will be a potential competitive differentiator.

III.     What process does the customer think they are involved with?

In the inside-out world we see process in a functional context. Therefore
insurance claims are dealt with by an insurance claims department. Customer
Retention is the baby of you guessed it, the Customer retention department
and marketing is done by the marketing people. This split of responsibility
is a legacy of functional specialization created by relating to business as
a production line. Adam Smith wrote in ŒThe Wealth of Nations¹ (1776) of an
English pin factory.  He described the production of a pin in the following
way: ²One man draws out the wire, another straightens it, a third cuts it, a
fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head: to
make the head requires two or three distinct operations: to put it on is a
particular business, to whiten the pins is another … and the important
business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen
distinct operations, which in some manufactories are all performed by
distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometime perform two or
three of them². The result of labor division in Smith¹s example resulted in
productivity increasing by 240 fold. i.e. that the same number of workers
made 240 times as many pins as they had been producing before the
introduction of labor division. The insights form Smith underpinned the
industrial revolution however using this principle to organise ourselves in
the 21st century is to a very large part the wrong approach. That is
precisely what the answer to the question will tell us ­ ³sorry sir you are
talking to the wrong department, let me transfer you². Or even getting stuck
in automated response system hell ³press 1 for this, 2 for that, 3 for the
other and 4 if you have missed the first three options.² These are features
of the labor division mindset. Ask a customer what process they think they
are and you will frequently be surprised by the answer.

IV.    What do we do that Impacts customer success?

Often we ask customers to do numerous many activities which appear sensible
to receive service or indeed buy products. Relating back to the insurance
claim we can see rules and procedure around how to make claims, the correct
way to complete forms, the process of collating the information, the
timeframes within which to claim, the way we can reimburse you and more.
Often times these restrictions that we impose made sense at some time in the
past however they may no longer be relevant.

The situation is compounded by the way internal functional specialism focus
on project objectives. Richard Prebble, a respected New Zealand politician
writes in his 1996 book ³I¹ve been thinking² of the inability of
organizations to think clearly of the amount of work they create and in fact
³they spend a million to save a thousand every time².
His story of the challenge within large organizations is typical “The Post
Office told me they were having terrible problems tracking telephone lines
… They found an excellent program in Sweden which the Swedes were prepared
to sell them for $2m …. So the managers decided to budget $1m for
translating into English and another $1m for contingencies. But, as the
general manager explained, it had turned out to be more expensive than the
contingency budget allowed and they needed another $7m. “How much”, I asked,
“have you spent on it so far?” “Thirty-seven million dollars” was the reply.
“Why don’t we cancel the program?” I asked “How can we cancel a program that
has cost $37m?” they asked   “Do you believe the program will ever work?” I
asked “No, not properly” “Then write me a letter recommending its
cancellation and I will sign it” The relief was visible. I signed the
letter, but I knew I needed new managers.”

This type of inside-out thinking causes companies to create apparently
sensible checks and controls within processes that actually manifest as
customer inconvenience, cost and delay. Are you making the customers lives
easier, simpler and more successful?

V.    The Successful Customer Outcome ­ what does the customer really need
from us?

At this point we should have enough information to objectively create
several statements that articulate the SCO. These statements should be
specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). Usually
there will 6-10 such statements which become the actual key performance
measures as move the process Outside-In. For example a North American
business school completed the SCO map and created these statements from the
customer perspective for an ŒEducation loan application¹ process:

a.    I need to receive my financial assistance
b.    I need to receive aid before the semester starts
c.    I need to attend the classes I have chosen
d.    I do not want to call to chase progress
e.    I need to receive the correct amount
f.    I do not want to have to fix your mistakes

There is no ambiguity here and we avoid a common mistake of using management
weasel words such as Œefficient, effective, timely¹ which may mean things
internally but to a customer are of little help. Creating SCO statements
that may be used as measures for process success is a key aid on the journey
to Outside-In.

VI.    And now we reach the core of the onion. What is the one line
statement that best articulates our Successful Customer Outcome?

This one-liner embodies the very nature of the process and sometimes the business
we are in. In ŒThrive- how to succeed in the Age of the Customer¹
McGregor/Towers (2005), Easyjet (Europe¹s second largest airline) is used as
an example in this quest. Their simple ³Bums on Seats² SCO sentence works
both from a company perspective (we must maximize utilization, offer
inexpensive seats, get people comfortably and safely to their destinations)
and the customers needs  ³I need a cheap safe seat to get me to the sunshine
quickly without a fuss².

The company one liner will become part of a series which are measureable
through the SCO statements and can be tested and revised depending on
evolving customer expectations and needs. It may in fact ultimately replace
the inside-out strategic process and provide the organisation with its
Raison d’être.

Of course when we start the journey it is often sufficient to create SCO
maps to help grow understanding and even if the actual SCO Map is
subsequently replaced (as we take a broader view) the improvement in
understanding around the customer is invaluable.

In the third part of this four part series we will review “Re-frame where
the process starts and ends”