Customer Service needs Leadership
In one of my previous blogs I discussed the concept of Customer Lifetime-Value (CLV) and its role in Customer Service Management.
CLV = the present value of future cash flows attributed to the customer relationship
Focusing on Customer-Lifetime-Value is based on two core assumption:
- It’s all about sustaining (internal or external) customer relationships – this implies we need to understand what the customer truly needs from their IT and supporting services
- These relationships need to translate into (financial) value for the business
So, how does ‘Leadership’ fit into this equation?
Leadership is what makes it all happen. By that I do not mean the day-to-day execution of plans, projects or budgets (that’s management), but the ability to provide a vision and then create an environment in which teams collaborate to make that vision a reality.
In this context, Service Leaders need to be able to do 3 things:
- Assess the Current State
- Define the Future
- Lead the Business Alignment
Assessing the Current State
Before you can define where you want to go, you have to know where you are starting from. You have to do a diagnosis of your business or what we call a ‘Situation Appraisal’ at Kepner-Tregoe. The CLV model I described in my previous blog provides a framework for a holistic assessment of your business. For each of the value drivers in your business (with respect to strategy, cost and revenue/quality) you want to first identify your major concerns, challenges and opportunities. [To get started, you can use this Health-Check]. Then break these concerns down into specific, actionable issues and identify their priority for the business by looking at time frame and impact. Finally, initiate a planning process for addressing your priority concerns (do not try to do everything, but focus on what gives you the biggest bang for the buck!)
Defining the Future
This is where a true visionary shines! Defining the future of your business, i.e. formulating a strategy, requires a combination of out-of-the-box, divergent thinking (“expanding” of ideas/alternatives) and convergent thinking (choosing from the alternatives and committing to a direction/focus). More on this particular subject in one of my next Blogs!
Leading the Business Alignment
This may be the least intuitive element of leadership, but perhaps the most critical one. Why ‘Alignment’ and not ‘Implementation’? Because a true leader doesn’t necessarily need to be an expert “implementer”, but first and foremost of all someone who keeps the various elements of the business, that make for a successful implementation “in sync”. ‘Implementation’ is about getting things done according to what was planned (e.g. rolling out a new ERP system or setting up a new data center). ‘Business Alignment' is about integration all the moving parts. For example, when we decide to provide a new set of IT Services (say Problem Management), a leader thinks about what this may mean for process adjustments (e.g. linking Problem to Incident Management), new skills required (e.g. troubleshooting skills), the performance system (e.g. recognizing and reinforcing a structured approach to RCA/problem prevention) and alignment of software tools (e.g. for problem tracking/knowledge sharing). A vision only becomes reality if a leader ensures that the organization is aligned and enabled to execute on it.
Christoph Goldenstern is a Global Vice President and Principal with Kepner-Tregoe. He has more than 15 years of strategic and operational consulting and management experience with focus on Customer Service, Technology and other B2B industries.