Best Ways to Serve Customers: Challenges Not Often Considered
Finding the best ways to serve customers is a challenge under any circumstance. Companies are driven, among other things, by a desire for higher margins or to meet competitive pressures.
For one client, at the request of the chief executive, we facilitated a cross-business-unit, senior executive task force which examined issues of under-performance for a new direct channel of distribution. For this multi-national high tech corporation underperformance of the new channel was not due to market potential or allocation of resources. We found that inadequate definition of the internal management system under which the channel was to operate was the major cause.
Over a six week period we:
- Identified and articulated the key issues
- Facilitated the development of and negotiated solutions to those issues
- Defined, proposed and gained approval of the cross-business unit management and accountability systems
- Wrote the communications from the chief executive which implemented the results
In the 12 months following implementation, the new channel grew by multiples of its first 18 months of existence, and 10 years later is a multi-billion dollar contributor.
Jointly Articulating What Could Be: A Solution for Cross-Organization Dysfunction
The customer-facing parts of the U.S. unit of this global high-tech firm were under-producing, both as individual units and collectively.
After assessing the situation we determined that the primary issue was that cross-organization relationships were highly fractured, and that there was a silo approach to organization, management and accountability. These two sets of issues resulted in people and organizations often acting at cross purposes.
We recommended the formation of a cross-functional team of influential mid-management and individual contributor representatives from sales, marketing, sales operations, finance and services. Over a sixty day period we facilitated the work of this team which developed a cross-functional business process covering the entire marketing and sales cycle. The process included role definitions, identification of points where cross-functional work was required and a set of process milestones and measurements.
Based on the milestones, the team estimated that by implementing the new process elapsed time from initial demand generation to close, delivery and installation could be reduced by nearly 40%. The team recommended specific cross-functional measurements and targets for qualified lead rates, close rates, and time to close.
The process as well as the targets were adopted and implemented in the context of a divisional merger and sales force automation implementation.