Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Strategy Over Time to Build a Customer Centric Organization

The new customer focus is something that needs to be managed over time. It is not something that can be done mechanically or that will automatically keep a company on course.

Today’s managers need to make being customer-centric a major component in strategic decisions, not use it as a substitute for them. Although following where the customers lead is good advice over the short term, it is often poor advice over the long term. “The customers wanted it”, can easily become an excuse for bad choices. What’s more, the cumulative effect of these customer driven choices can put the company into a position where it can no longer supply anything the customers want for a price they are willing to pay. Companies can find themselves adding features or services that customers say they want and that are cost effective, taken one by one. But the collective effect of these features and services can be to clutter and complicate operations, so that there is ultimately a loss in productive efficiency overall. By scrambling to keep up with customer suggestions, the company may be neglecting to develop the big new capabilities it will need over the longer term. Six sigma focuses on these parts of the business. DMAIC charters are defined to sustain and develop processes that are set and to control the improvements developed over a period of time. We make our customer as our main stakeholder in a development, and involve them right from the very commencement of an engagement.

The new customer focus is a customer-centric approach that puts the end customer at the center of gravity of the mindset, structure and activities of a corporation. It must become an articulated, practiced and vibrant part of a company’s culture, guiding the efforts of the firm. This will enable an appropriate blending of customer data with on-the-ground human insight, building an understanding of the whole of a customer’s needs, and allowing a company’s distinctive capabilities to be matched with market need. Ultimately, this enables true collaboration along the value chain, as the focus of all companies in the chain will be on the same place: the end customer.