We all like quick wins, don’t we? Actually I don’t.
Yes really! Largely because ‘quick wins’ are about giving priority to the easy or cheap rather than the important. We too often feel good about the ‘quick win’ and the ‘important’ gets forgotten. Simply, ‘quick wins’ distort priorities. We like ‘quick wins’ because they allow us to demonstrate we have done something while the real priorities are relegated or lost further down the to-do list. It is the mentality I have trouble with; if I can show my boss a quick win he/she will be happy. The quick win mentality is really self serving not business serving.
For quick wins to be worthy they must also be important. So here is my suggestion for an important ‘quick’ win that potentially delivers significant business benefits (although the benefits may take time!).
Having spent a day with a dozen directors and senior managers of a well known bank I found myself talking to their Customer Experience Director at the bar. He told me a recent £100m investment meant that funds were not available for systems rationalisation to deliver a seamless service to customers. I asked if the bank had considered the impact of the £100m investment on customers. I got a rather blank ‘why would they do that’ look. I innocently asked him if he considered the bank to be ‘customer centric’. He said ‘yes, pretty much’. I suggested perhaps some qualitative commentary on customer impact or even some quantitative analysis to assess the impact on customer growth and revenues might be helpful.
So here is the deal, to be customer centric requires a mindset that considers customer impact in everything you do as a business, and in particular key strategic investment decisions. No doubt the £100m investment decision was made at a senior level, possibly board level. No doubt a detailed business case was prepared. The only piece missing was a section in the business case headed ‘Customer Impact’ (including opportunity cost!). The quick win is inserting a ‘Customer Impact’ section into the pro forma business case. It is a ‘double whammy’ really, the quick win is firstly one of discipline; getting the senior team to include ‘customer impact’ as part of its decision making thinking and secondly and perhaps not so quick is the benefit of bringing the customer into every senior board decision and ensuring the customer interest is genuinely at the centre of the business.
Frankly, I doubt if the bank would have made a different decision but it would be good to know the customer interests were formally discussed before a significant investment decision was made. Hey the sums may have come out rather differently.
While my suggestion is not rocket science and yes, many of you will already be saying ‘balanced scorecard’. Let me stop you there, as soon as you suggest balanced scorecard the ‘quick win’ will be scrutinised and subjected to push back. Inserting the customer impact section in the business case pro forma should hopefully be quick; suggesting adopting the balanced scorecard will turn a quick win into a potentially emotive and prejudiced discussion that could be doomed to failure.
|Eamonn Murray is a Principal Consultant at Beyond Philosophy with 15 years of consulting experience, specializing in customer experience and customer innovation. Eamonn is also a consistent contributor to both publications and conferences. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from our Global Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, USA.|