Process, the Unsexy Shape of Your Customer-Centric World (Part 3 of 6)

Business processes are collections of  structured activities and tasks that produce a specific product/service for your customer(s); they encapsulate ‘WHAT you do’ and ‘HOW you do it’.

Does my Process look big in this?

Over time, these processes progressively become bloated, overweight, and unfit (for purpose).

The focus and effectiveness of your processes shapes your business: it determines your bottom-line costs, impacts the top-line revenue and, ultimately, the profit (or loss) made by your company. But there is much more to it than that.

Looking back, we began this series with the article:

Still focussing on your products? You’re doomed to extinction”.

Organisations that only focus on improving processes from an internal perspective could also face the same fate as the dinosaurs – in all likelihood, they are still shooting wide of the mark when it comes to meeting the needs of the customer.

“We know our customers, and give them want they want”

If I was to ask you – what percentage of your activities add value to the customer, you would probably say 60-80%, right?  You would probably be surprised to find out that if I ask your customers the same question about those same activities, they would answer that only 20-40% of what you did was valuable to them.  This gaping chasm between the customers’ perception and your organisations perception is the direct result of your approach to improving internal process efficiencies with insufficient focus on the customer.

“Outside-in” is the new “inside-out”

The 21st century organisation must move beyond the “inside-out” thinking of manufacturing-based process approaches that seek to ‘squeeze the last drops’ of efficiency out of current ways of working. They must adopt “outside-in” thinking and methods that drive change from the external customer perspective. This external perspective is at the heart of a customer centric approach that aligns organisational structure, information and processes, to deliver products and services to both internal and external customers in the most direct and agile way.

Organisations that continue to evolve from the “inside-out” are simply building a more efficient version of the existing ways of working – further entrenching today’s complexities and poor practice.  The “outside-in”, customer-centric approach, demands that organisations re-evaluate everything that they do – identifying  simpler ways to serve the customer in ways that deliver a relevant, convenient and enjoyable experience.

But we like things the way they are!

Many organisations – and the people within them – are intrinsically resistant to change. Often, external impetus from impartial independent consultants is needed to help organisations to unearth deeply embedded inefficiencies and behaviours. Providing organisations with the necessary support, tools and techniques, external consultants can ensure that people in your company are enabled and motivated to tackle these challenges collaboratively, allowing them to model best practice themselves. By ‘embedding’ these behaviours and techniques within your organisation, customer-centricity becomes ‘business as usual’ (BAU) – enabling your team to innovate and deliver further sustainable change into the business, without continued assistance from external consultants.

Depending on the particular organisation, ‘quick wins’ can usually be identified and implemented well in advance of any mid-term/long-term strategic business changes.

So – you seek the Holy Grail?

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
ARTHUR: That is our quest. You know much that is hidden, O Tim.
TIM: Quite.
From Scene 32

Recent experience with a number of clients has shown that building a customer centric ethos and architecture into the heart of your business processes will improve the ultimate business benefit derived from any business change.

Indeed, by placing the customer at the centre of everything you do, it is feasible – almost inevitable – that you will achieve the ‘holy grail’ of bottom-line cost savings, as well as top-line revenue increases. By focussing on delivering these successful outcomes, organisations find that customer-centric business change programmes quickly pay for themselves.

The chasm I mentioned earlier – between what you think and what your customers think – is quiet shocking.  At the same time though, it represents a fabulous opportunity to bridge that gap by re-alligning your processes around what your customers really want from you.

So – what do you seek – do you know what customer centric processes look like? Do you know how to gain insight into what your customers really want?

And what are you going to do to avoid being “cast into the Gorge of Eternal Peril”?!

About deancarlton

Leader | Business Change Consultant | KJ | Yachtsman | Yoga & Meditation Teacher | Unleash the Tiger Within & release the POTENTIAL + VALUE in People & Business
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10 Responses to Process, the Unsexy Shape of Your Customer-Centric World (Part 3 of 6)

  1. Rob says:

    Hey Dino,
    Of course this is spot on. The truth is that the competition is increasing in the business world. New doors are opening everyday. Do you want to service your customer or have someone else do it? A good example is Zappos.com. Aren’t there plenty of sites hawking shoes already? Sure. But, if done right, the customers will come back again and again.
    As usual, excellent post my friend.

    • deancarlton says:

      Hey, Rob,

      You are right there – if you do not provide the right service, you will lose the customer.

      Zappos.com is always a great example to hold up – it will be interesting to see whether they can sustain that reputation – it is easy for an organisation to take it’s eye off the ball over time.

      Thanks for the positive feedback and support, buddy.

  2. Alan fauver says:

    Your theory on customer centric processes is quite amazing and effective one. I agree with your strategy that modern customers are very selective. So, judging the behavior of the customers and providing them the services what they really want can lead to their satisfactions. This way you can have a very successful business. web stats

  3. deancarlton says:

    Hi Alan, and welcome!

    Thank you for your supportive feedback, I appreciate it!

    The effectiveness of the customer-centric approach requires genuine commitment from the company to make it work – us consumers are canny enough to spot when a company has merely applied lipstick to the proverbial pig!

  4. Cathy S. says:

    Customer Satisfaction really is somewhat a hard thing to achieve, since we have to face different types of people with different needs and wants. Providing Quality output and following this customer centric approach can be a good challenge to enhance customer satisfaction.

  5. Cheolsu says:

    Your take on customer centric processes is very effective. I have had experience dealing with tough customers. Most customers believe that there is always scope for improvement. Customer satisfaction can be achieved in the long run with customers first approach.

  6. Nishadha says:

    Excellent article about serving your customer. I agree with the fact that of all the things a company do a customer finds value in only about 20-40% of them. But you should be considerate when factoring this especially if you a product is catering to a large market. As a diagramming tool people use us to draw flowcharts to info-graphics. So a new release of iPhone templates or something similar will benefit only a very small percentage of users. Still they are important if we want to expand.

    • deancarlton says:

      Thanks Nishadha. That is a great point you make.

      Naturally, we design our products and services to appeal to as wide a customer base as possible – both within the the mass/volume market and niche areas.

      Of equal importance, if not more, is to cater to the ‘long tail’ market, something your product (with it’s ever increasing pool of templates) caters to very well.

      Thanks for stopping by – I hope to see more from you!

  7. Lee says:

    Hi your bit about companies liking things the way they are. They are in there comfort zone when they don’t have to change or evolve. They are making a living the way things are so don’t want things to change in case it is for the worse. What they should be doing is changing constantly to keep ahead of the opposition or they will as you say be as dead as the dinosaurs.

    Good read thanks lee

  8. Lee says:

    Glad I stumbled back on this article because after reading it I started looking at things more pro actively and trying to think more ahead and it has really helped.

    So for that thanks lee

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