Arbitrary and capricious: We hear lawyers on TV throwing around that phrase with regard to unwarranted cases. Yet today it seems decision-making at many organizations is arbitrary and capricious, especially in the area of cutting costs.
Employees are left wondering, “What myopic view did they use to come up with that decision?”
Some firms that moved their call centers off-shore are asking the same question. They saved money, as advertised, but the customers didn’t like it and it ended up hurting the company.
Customer-centric organizations recognize that the best decisions are made with intelligence gleaned from five different views that I call the “Five Views of the Corporate Universe.”
This is an historic view of the organization. From this view, an organization will know what happened, the related numbers, and the resulting trends. This view helps the customer-centric organization target its resources to high-profit customers in growing segments.
This view provides insights into where the organization is headed. It can be formal, often including strategic or five-year plans, or as informal as a founder’s strongly held vision. Organizations need the crystal-ball view in order to align Customer Touchpoint Management efforts to improve customer-centricity with their business model and strategic plans.
This self-examination view enables organizations to explore their infrastructure, including processes and organizational structure.
Often, organizations drawn to the mirror view have Six Sigma programs. Process-wise, they are going to find a way to do it better — meaning faster, cheaper or by improving quality.
Applying the intelligence from other views to data from the mirror view better enables customer-centric organizations to optimize touch point infrastructure — the systems that facilitate the design and delivery of customer interactions, or touch points.
Another view the organization can take is to examine its world by looking out at customers and the market place. This view can provide copious quantities of information about customers, including the what, when, how, and how much of its customers’ purchases.
Typically, this information is transactional (sales data), and not primary research — in other words, this is invaluable information, but it does not provide the “why” behind the interaction or transaction. Competitive intelligence, including industry best practices, can also be a component of this view.
Understanding both transactional data and competitive strengths and weaknesses enhances the customer-centric organization’s ability to efficiently allocate resources to achieve maximum results.
A valuable view is that of the marketplace or customer looking in. From this view, an organization can better understand its prospects’ and customers’ needs, and the performance of the customer touch points it currently deploys.
For the customer-centric organization, this view can also serve to provide information regarding touch point paths, or the specific sequence of touch points individuals encounter. Knowing which will most likely be the next touch point along a prospect’s path is powerful information. Additionally, this view provides insights into customer expectations, the levers that motivate action, and the “whys” of customer actions.
Each of the five views of the corporate universe provides key pieces of the puzzle. The historic and internal intelligence blends together with primary research from both customers and employees to provide clear direction and the solid foundation for decisions that deliver the strongest return on investment. Those organizations that focus intelligence from all five views on improving customer-centricity will do CTM right, positively affecting key financial metrics.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find organizations that focus too much of their examination of their world on a single view. This tendency to default to a specific view can position an organization to miss important facts and opportunities. Here are some organizational symptoms that indicate an unhealthy focus on a single view.
Does your organization fit one of these profiles?
- Rear View: They pour over financial statements scrutinizing history in order to explain it. They tend to ask, “What happened,” or “Why did that happen?” rather than, “What are we going to do?” They may not know where they are going, but they certainly know where they have been.
- Mirror: Reorganization is a way of life. They may not know exactly what the customer wants or the end results of the current reorg, but what they deliver will be done with great process efficacy.
- Crystal Ball: They are obsessed with the vision; the plan. The organizations that focus on this view may not know where they have come from or what their customers really think of them, but moving forward, they know the grand plan.
- Window-Out: They can be myopically focused on transactional customer data, available competitive intelligence, or both. They can answer a lot of questions, but typically lack the answer to the critical one: “Why?”
- Window-In: They are dedicated to gathering and analyzing voice-of-customer data, and customers are starting to tire from the endless surveys. The organization that focuses too much on this view can pamper its customers, often blind to the impact on profits, or losses.
An interesting analogy can be drawn from a research study designed to test visual memory. After showing a videotape of a handful of people playing basketball, Christopher Chabris of Harvard University and Dr. Daniel Simons from the University of Illinois, asked the subjects to count the passes made by one of the teams. In the tape of the basketball game, a woman dressed in a gorilla suit walked slowly across the scene for nine seconds. The gorilla passed between the players and stopped to face the camera and thump her chest.
Concentrating on counting the passes, about half of the subjects failed to spot the woman in the gorilla suit.
Yet when the same group of subjects was simply asked to view the tape, they easily noticed the gorilla. Many of those who originally missed the gorilla were convinced that it was a different version of the video — one edited to include the ape.
Applying intelligence from all five views of the corporate universe is a foundation for sound decisions, especially in the area of CTM. If your organization is focusing too much on one or two views, it may be missing important information, and to its own detriment, making decisions that are arbitrary and capricious.