The reason why you will not become Customer-Centric

Business failures are all around us, nothing new there then. If we go back a decade or so we saw the demise of Nokia, we’ve seen companies like Blockbuster crash and burn, and other companies in the High Street whether it’s in Europe or in the US disappear and never to be seen again.

Why is this so when if you look at the investment those companies were making there was no lack of intent to spend in understanding how the customer was changing. In the year that Apple introduced the iPhone Nokia were investing very heavily in the voice of the customer surveys, customer satisfaction and NPS.

But this misses the point. Progressive Outside-In companies (think Amazon, Zara, Zappos, Emirates) are not about retrospective subjective analysis of performance. It isn’t about overlaying processes with a new language when fundamentally the very systems and processes were never designed to deliver experiences. They were designed with a factory mindset centred around production line thinking, throughput and waste. Hence the challenge is more fundamental as it’s not about rejigging what you’re doing – it is about a complete rethink to move outside in the way that you do business.

Remarkably as we approach the third decade of the 21st century there are still those companies that think they can just tweak and change the language inside their organisations. As if doing better advertising and marketing to customers and talking about ‘new’ services on top of their existing infrastructures and IT systems hacks it. The actual reality is somewhat different.

Senior Executive commentary

Top teams and senior executives need to grasp this challenge. Roland Naidoo, a senior executive at African based entertainments company Multichoice puts the choice starkly:

“Would you measure how fast a 1600cc car performed around an F1 circuit. No? Then why would you try to measure customer experience AND improve it on processes and products there were never designed with experience in mind. Go on enter your 1600 into the next F1. Wonder how it would perform?”

Roland Naidoo, Multichoice Africa

Lipstick on a Pig? Surely not…

Those companies who understand that ‘outside-in’ thinking calls for a complete realignment and new appraisal of what the customer experience consists of. Rather than, to coin a phrase, putting lipstick on a pig. You have actually got to think about what is it you’re trying to achieve; what does success look like for our customer? And then align across all functions, all systems and ways of working towards successful customer outcomes. Disney refers to this alignment as getting everybody to understand where true north is and not to do anything unless it contributes to that alignment. Imagine all new initiatives being assessed by a similar approach?

Are you working in a Rubik cube?

Another aspect which comes into play is this idea that traditional measurement* is predominantly subjective and retrospective. Progressive outside in companies are not reactive – they get scientific about the customer experience. Measuring each interaction as it happens and if necessary course-correcting in real-time. They develop the ability to see around corners to understand what’s coming next. They don’t have to wait for analysis 2 weeks after an event to decide that some remedial action is required. This knowledge in the instance of what is happening requires us to create this idea of ‘action in the moment’ for all our employees. Zappos**, for instance, give their employees the tools and the capability to be able to make decisions in the moment (without the need to escalate to supervisors).

Industrial Age thinking will kill you

And there is another challenge companies face if they are still organised around functional specialist silos. If you’ve recruited low paid people and given them a script to follow, manage them to average handle times and throughputs you’re going to fail. Once more the outside-in companies have an edge here as they understand that to give your most precious resource (the customer) to the employees then you need the right people in the right place able to do the right things at that moment of truth.

So what is your organization doing? is it trying to put lipstick on the pig? is it just trying to overlay the existing process is an infrastructure with this new customer-centric way of talking and doing?

It is very simple. You need to get down to brass tacks of rethinking what customer experience is all about its implication for the organisation going forward. Those organisations that are taking this outside-in approach find the world becomes simpler, faster and much more directly oriented towards delivering successful customer outcomes and winning for the bottom line.


* Why does traditional measurement fail?
from the CX Rockstar aka James Dodkins at https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6566333517070954496/

** Zappos – Wow customer service: https://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2018/09/15/the-secret-of-wow-customer-service-is-breathing-space-just-ask-zappos/#7da91ff01b2c

Roland Naidoo can be reached at:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/roland-d-naidoo-b403a029/

Excellent Hotel experiences

Now this is the hotel experience. Great advice for all hotel chains from the man himself – Sir Richard Branson.


Focus on those key moments of truth for guests and magic just happens.

What MOTs do you get especially peeved with when traveling?

You can join this excellent Virgin Hotel experience in Chicago – go see http://virginhotels.com/

They will be in New York and Nashville very soon.

4. Breakpoints – Identifying them, fixing them and controling them

Do you follow up on others to ensure that activities they are responsible for are being done in a timely manner so you can get your primary work done?

Any time we “check” on something, we are doing so because a Break Point exists.

Do you ever need to “fight a fire”?

Every “fire” exists because of a Break Point, Moment of Truth or Business Rule.

What about meetings? Do you have meetings in order to get everyone “on the same page”?

Many meetings exist solely to coordinate and communicate the actions that need to be taken in response to “break downs” from Break Points and Moments of Truth.

How many actions do you take to confirm something got done, has been completed or to check on something to make sure it is in a particular place, with a particular person, etc?

Actions taken to confirm other actions are behaviors that arise from failures that have occurred in the past (we have learned our lesson) at Break Points and Moments of Truth.

How many times have you had to fill out one or more forms to “document” the fact that something got done?

Documenting normal work is a behavior spawned by process failure at one or more Break Points as a means to “reduce” the number of failures that don’t get “caught.” (This is called fixing the effect – which always leads to the creation of more Causes of Work.)

Remember, any place that a hand-off occurs for any interaction between any combination of people and systems, a Break Point exists.

What do you need to know to put this strategy to work for you? 
It’s simple. You are only five steps away from identifying the causes of work in your organization then eliminating them. You need to have a target, Break Points identified, Actions identified, Cost/Benefit Assessment and your Cost Reduction Plan.

1. Breakpoints – those insidious internal handoffs

insidious – Proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects:

Yup that is Breakpoints.


Most process improvement techniques focus on only a small portion of the improvement potential in every process… the tip of the iceberg if you will. 
How big is the opportunity resting out of our sight, hidden below the waterline of current process improvement practices? 
Recent research shows that as much as 70 to 90 percent of the work people do on a daily basis comes directly from Causes of Work and this work is NOT part of the “job” for which these people were hired! Instead, this is non-value added work that takes away from people’s ability to do their job.
Does this sound familiar? Can you identify places in your work or life where these Causes of Work are distracting you from what you really want to be doing?
Are you required to fill out this form, check up on that order, follow-up on those activities, fix the thing that is broken, find what got lost, or explain why this was done that way? 
Do you get tasked with finding the answer, knowing the rules, going to meetings (because), pushing something through, chasing down what really happened, explaining why you did this or that? The list goes on and on but you shouldn’t need to look very far in any part of your life to find all kinds of examples of non-value add work you are doing every single day!
The Break Points Toolkit explicitly targets these “hidden” wasters of time and money. Causes of Work are the “rest of the iceberg” for process improvement that, when addressed, lead to dramatic process improvement results regardless of what kind of process is involved or what kind of organization the process is in.
Can you envisage reducing the costs of your operations by 20%, 30%, 40% or even more than 50%?