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12 Days of Xmas #7: my COO said to me “How can our operations be more customer focused?”

On the 7th day of Christmas my COO said to me “How can our operations be more customer focused?”

It’s one thing to talk strategically about customer centricity in B2B but it’s another thing completely to engender a real passion for the customer experience amongst the staff who are often tactically managed (even outsourced) and the least well paid in the business.

Yet it is crucial to do so because these staff are the people who actually deliver and support the day-to-day experience that customers receive – the delivery drivers, receptionists, back-office workers, warehouse & factory workers, etc. who represent your company every day. Here’s a checklist to consider how customer focused your Operations are:

People

  • None of the other parts of this checklist will work if you don’t have your HR aligned to your customer strategy:
  • How are people targeted & measured and what mandate is there to change things?
  • Is there a “Way of Working” set out based on defined positive behaviours that are driven by attitude rather than rules?
  • Is there a standard induction for staff or does it vary by location? Do you put the managers through it as well?
  • Have any cultural assessments been done? Any other gauges of staff morale?
  • Does training cover customer centricity as well as product/process/compliance?
  • What’s the relationship like with outsourced suppliers?
  • What’s staff turnover like vs. benchmarks and are absenteeism / disciplinaries / off-culture behaviours well managed?

Processes & Compliance

  • What quality systems are in place?
  • What proportion of management time is spent on firefighting?
  • Are the operational processes mapped and maintained? Have they been translated into simple procedures for people to follow?
  • How well do we comply with the compliance regimes that cover the operations? What’s the relationship like with regulators?
  • Are levels of leakage, undeliverable, rearrange, returns, etc. in-line with sector norms?
  • Do the complaint process, social listening, Customer Services etc. link back into Operations?

Data & Technology

  • How is IT structured in the business – centralised or devolved across divisions?
  • Are the systems fit-for-purpose across channels & media? Is there a ‘single customer view’?
  • Do staff care about data quality?

Standards

  • What’s promised to customers and are there corresponding internal standards to ensure they’re met? Who sets them?
  • Are there clear SLAs (service level agreements) and LTAs (lead time agreements) in-place with internal and external customers & suppliers?

Measures

  • Are measures joined-up from divisional objectives down to staff?
  • What measures REALLY drive the operations and culture of the division – very often not what’s reported!?
  • Is a balanced scorecard operated (hard and soft measures)?
  • Is there a measure for every quality standard? Is data quality prominently reported?

If your business can give positive responses to the above questions then I would rate its operations as very well run.

If it can’t then the areas of uncertainty would be a good place to start in the coming year.

Our diagnostic tools  can help you quantify any gaps to best practice and prioritise the actions to improve.

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Contact us at: hello@CustomerAttuned.com

 

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Peter Lavers

Peter Lavers is a co-founder and Director of Customer Attuned Ltd.

An expert in CRM and customer experience management and recognised as a top influencer in the subject e.g. IBM Futurist Roundtable member; Satmetrix Top 50 & SAP Top 60 Customer Experience influencers; Huffington Post Top 100 Customer Service professionals; MindTouch Top 50 Customer Success influencers; and Business Coach Top 100 Management Experts.

Peter's early career was with Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motors, where he trained as an engineer and went on to hold senior roles in commercial and logistics, market analysis, customer satisfaction, regional marketing and in his last client-side position as head of relationship marketing.