Visions and Villains

I have visions about where our industry is going. One vision is customer-centricity. No matter what competitive strategy you have chosen, customer-centricity has a place in your organization. You will always need to view your company from your customers’ point of view and build your strategy around their preferred experience. Therefore, every system and process we implement in the future will be built from the customer’s point-of-view. It’s good news for you because you’ve been entrusted with the customer interface, and your organization will depend on you even more tomorrow than it does today.

In addition to visions, I have villain stories to tell… scary and not-so-scary tales about customer contact’s past and present. You may face barriers in day-to-day management and not realize that they are rooted in philosophies and ideas that probably should have died by now. Instead, these ideas have become legendary.

Some villains are old and existed before the first call center was created, and some are brand new. Some villains are the remnants of good ideas—but ideas whose time has past. Some villains seem negative and have few redeeming qualities.

But one universal truth about these villains is they act incognito. Unless you are aware of their presence, you’ll stumble over the obstacles that they place in your path. You’ll not know what hit you. If many villains haunt your center, you’ll be so tired from stumbling that you’ll never have the energy to reach your vision.

You can’t make villains go away just by saying they are gone.

Let me tell you about a few villains that I have recognized.

Rubberstamp, the Villain of Product-centricity is an example of a tenacious villain—it slides unseen into team meetings before you are aware that it is there. Your team may start off being customer-focused and slip into investing in a new service without asking customers if it is what they want. Since we were born in a product-centric world, and product-centricity resides in every corner of our brains—it has become a subconscious part of doing business. The villain knows that we are by nature product-centric and plays on our natural weakness.

My job as a consultant is to help management teams implement their visions. I’ve traveled the country and met with many who are able to imagine—but not implement—visions. Teams cannot translate what they see in their minds into reality. Often in this “don’t know how to do it” environment, the villains have a field day.

This intent of this book is to turn that around.

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