thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

Customer 3D™ Collaboration

By on February 29, 2012

The least talked-about factor in becoming customer-centered is the way departments work with each other. If you look around your organization and see signs of a silo mentality, it is inevitable that you are too product-centered. Collaboration is the cornerstone of being customer-centered.

Let’s compare a product-centered company to a 3D, customer-centered organization:

  • Why does a traditional company develop such a territorial (silo) mindset? It’s because the employees in each functional area have been trained to believe that the product they are selling is the most important thing and the work they are doing in their departments is their most important contribution to the success of that product.
  • Why does a Customer 3D company able to operate in a more cohesive way with the other functions throughout the organization? It’s because employees have a single focus—the customer—and, like the people in the white-water rafting photo with this post, this purpose unifies the reason for their work and makes sense of the decisions that need to be made. With no separation between internal working areas, positive stories about what has been done for customers will spread quickly, causing a ripple effect that creates energy throughout the culture by building on each success.

WhiteWaterRaft_lrgIt is more than just teamwork. 3D companies are aggressive silo-busters. They succeed because they have institutional support that requires permeable “walls” between functional areas. WEIDMANN Electrical Technology, a St. Johnsbury, VT, based manufacturer of insulation for electrical transformers, for example, has a strong culture that encourages every employee to submit ideas for improvements. Their customer strategy has been driven by partnership relationships with their customers, such as their Value Enhanced System (VES) for insulation design. Instead of the boundaries between functional areas, which are common in old-fashioned businesses, their "external" focus creates greater bonds between traditional business silos. They are taking customer relations to a whole new place.

Customer 3D is a new approach used by high-performing leaders to reposition their organizations beyond simply serving customers to thinking like a customer. Because it is a system of co-creation that will drive the ability to innovate with new ideas and service design that will add value for customers, it is critical to have all functional areas working together to find and improve processes for the customer’s benefit.

Yes, it is cultural within each organization. It empowers employees to lift their heads up and to collaborate. It is a sense-making system that designs a new pattern of behaviors, which create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

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