Last week I talked about the idea that if businesses are to survive in the 21st century the need customer and digital in their DNA, “entwined and working together, internally and externally, to create truly transformative results.”
I also talked about how this needs to be a cultural and operational shift in the way the business works, and I then suggested that there was a radical new idea that could help you achieve this in your business with its digital transformation…
Before I tell you what this is, I want to explore why this is so difficult to achieve currently.
I believe it is because of the way business is set up – the old management paradigm that divides responsibility and sets divisional targets. This creates a situation of internal competition for resources and a lack of alignment around desired outcomes for different teams.
Consider how we talk about the customer. In sales we talk about the funnel, in marketing it might be awareness and in service we talk about resolutions. We literally have a different language.
We are also typically hierarchical in our organizations. Leadership is not devolved and the exec is often isolated from the customer. In fact those that actually talk to the customer are usually the most disenfranchised and least valued staff, with little power or business influence.
In this environment, there is no throughflow in the organisation. No DNA other than the next set of accounts and no opportunity to become a customer-focused, digitally enabled, agile player. Sure you might get pockets of innovation but the chances are you are largely reactive and most of your staff and even exec feel powerless to make a real change to the way the business operates.
So how you break out of this?
In short: Customer Hubs.
Customer Hubs are a project that we are working on in partnership with author and customer guru, Martin Hill-Wilson and systems and experience designer, Ben Smithwell.
A Customer Hub is, in its simplest terms, a space in an organisation that provides a real time view of customers and customer engagement. Representatives from across the business are seconded to the hub and during their tenure in the hub they share their insight and experience with each other. This creates a different perspective on their day-to-day activity but also allows them to work together to deliver longer-term, trickier change projects, directly directed to improving the customer experience they see. The representatives also act as champions for the hub and share their experience and ethos with their departments.
At the end of their tenure they mentor a new representative into the hub to the journey can continue.
Representatives can be from any department in the business, e.g. sales, service, marketing, comms, product, digital, innovation, HR, etc, depending on your immediate priorities but as the hub cohorts change over time, eventually the entire business is exposed to this new way of working.
The hub is non-hierarchical, empowered and agile.
It has a start-up mentality.
It is committed to the customer and digitally enabled.
It is self-sustaining.
It has a shared set of outcomes.
It is transformative.
And it is the customer and digital DNA of your organisation.
So, if you are struggling with digital transformation in your organisation and you’d like to chat more about Customer Hubs and how you could set one up in your business, why not drop us a line – we’d love to share our ideas.[Photo credit: Priya Saihgal]