You might be customer focused but…

Posted on July 20, 2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

icebergIf we each had a nickel for every time a co-worker, a leader or an email mentions how “customer focused” we are, we could probably create our own company that actually is.  It’s an over-used phrase and, unfortunately, it’s almost never actually true.  Not to say that most people aren’t committed to being responsive to your customers and do the best you can to create positive outcomes.  Unfortunately, your level of customer focus doesn’t end up counting for a whole lot if the organization itself doesn’t really understand what “customer focused” means.

Let’s talk merger.  There’s two “customer-focused” organizations, Company A buys Company B and intends to crush Company C with its new combined strength.  Thousands of customers are moving from Company B’s products to Company A’s products.  For argument’s sake, let’s assume that each and every product manager in the combined company is completely customer focused.

Each product manager looks at his or her customer list for impacted customers.  They identify customers for their product line, identify the differences between their old product and their new product, create a clear, concise communication relating to those changes, the customer’s important dates and communicates that out to their customers.  Great right?

Well, yes, except that every other product manager is doing the same thing.  So is each customer’s sales and relationship personnel.  Pretty soon, the customer has a pile of “customer focused” communications on their desk a foot tall and…Company C gets a great lift because neither Company A or B is customer focused at the organizational level.

If the organization doesn’t understand the end-to-end and just counts on their people to be customer focused, then they’ll likely be focusing on the sight of their customers leaving in droves.  This scenario has been played  out many times.

Ever visit a hospital?  The registration person is focused on you, the doctor is focused on you, the surgeon is focused on you, the nurses and post-care people are focused on you, your insurance company is focused on you…until the EOB’s and bills start rolling in.  “This is not a bill,” “insurance pending,” “patient amount due,” one from the hospital, one from the anesthesiologist, one from the doctor’s group, one from the post-lop doctor’s group…each of whom are customer focused, yet the ‘organization’ is not and you are bombarded by paper.

What’s happening?  They are making it hard for you to understand what to pay, so you don’t. If you’re typical, you just wait it out until you figure out which ones are real.  All the while the hospital and all of its associated partners complain about the length of time it takes patients to pay.  They factor out the receivables to collection companies, sacrificing 15-30% of the revenue–not because their people aren’t customer focused, but because the organization isn’t.

It’s not hard to see the customer focused individual in any company.  Unfortunately, those are just the tip and the rest of the customer’s experience is probably under water…