Thursday, February 25, 2016

Customer Focus Strategy

Customer Focus Strategy, ISO 9001, BPI, BPM
I have recently followed a discussion about a company who was planning to start several small initiatives in order to increase customer focus in their company. The initiatives should come from enthusiast employees and the intention is to have a kind of ‘cultural change’ in the company in order to become more customer oriented. This discussion inspired me to write this article.

Customer orientation and focus is a very good idea and strategy. The implementation on the other hand is not as easy as it seams at first site. The above described approach which this company was planning to use will most probably not lead to the desired results!

My first problem with such an approach is that something like this should happen according to a well defined strategic plan and not just as a random initiative. Customer intimacy/focus is a business strategy and not just some random actions taken by employees.

My second problem is that many small changes may lead to a wrong global effect on business level. This is the well know sub-optimization problem by which many small improvements lead to a not desirable result because optimizing sub-parts may not optimize the whole. The whole system (business) as a whole should be optimized according to a well defined plan!

There are several management systems which focus on the customer. No need thus for inventing something new. One of such management systems is documented in the ISO 9001 international standard.

ISO 9001 is about implementing and documenting efficient processes; monitoring them for quality and continually improving the effectiveness of the system. The first management principle of the ISO 9000 group of standards is customer focus!

The eight quality management principles according to the ISO 9000 group of standards are the following:
  1. Customer Focus
  2. Leadership - leaders establish unity of purpose and direction.
  3. Involvement of People - teamwork, knowledge management and company culture are all very important.
  4. Process Approach - The desired result is achieved more efficiently when related resources and activities are managed as a process. Processes are mapped from customer inquiry through to final product or service fulfillment. The processes are then well documented at all stages of the activities.
  5. System Approach to Management - Identifying, understanding and managing a system of interrelated processes for a given objective improves the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency.
  6. Continual Improvement - keep improving all elements of the organization by taking small steps at a time.
  7. Factual Approach to Decision Making - effective decisions are based on the analysis of data and information.
  8. Mutually Beneficial Supplier Relationships - suppliers are very important to your organization, therefore build a mutual beneficial relationship with them.
Implementing ISO 9001 best practices in your company will result in a higher customer focus, less waste, more productivity, etc.

Next to ISO 9001, there are of course many business process improvement (BPI) and management (BPM) methodologies which also focus on creating value for the customer and thus on customer intimacy! It is also not a surprise that all of these BPI and BPM methodologies follow most of the ISO 9001 principles!

Read more about these and other subjects in my books and in my blog!

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