Passionned colleagues Mark de Kort and Dick Pouw have published a white paper with that title, which is designed to help IT departments and companies become customer-focused by injecting them, as it were, with ‘Customer Care DNA’. According to the authors, customer-focus in both mind and work is a prerequisite for the survival of any IT business.
Stuck in a technocratic mind-set
“Based on my own practical experience, a lot of BI companies are stuck in a technocratic mind-set, so to speak, and have no regard for their customers,” says Dick Pouw. “In areas aside from IT, a huge amount of knowledge and experience has been built up in the field of customer focus and customer care. If that DNA can be introduced into existing IT organizations, it will close the traditional gap between them and the business side.”
Dick Pouw gained a massive amount of practical experience in this at the Telegraaf Group. He worked on the business side of the organization for a long time, and then moved into the IT domain (TIBCO, SAP). “I kept myself busy with client contacts, with CRM, with customer care. But I didn’t feel like I was fully supported by the IT department. Every problem, every issue, every idea was approached in a very technocratic way.”
It all disappeared into a kind of black hole
“Everything was discussed, but it all disappeared into a kind of black hole” he said. “When I was appointed CIO, I decided, on the basis of my own experiences, to change that department into a customer-focused organization. We started by placing a monitor in the workplace, which displayed how we operated per customer. This data is always there, but it’s usually kept out of sight. From that point on, everyone could see how many incidents were still open, and we asked each other questions about the reason for this. A simple customer focussed visualisation like this helped change the mind-set of employees almost immediately.”
Customer focus is an absolute essential for IT companies who want to stay in business. “Customers today are increasingly capable of bypassing IT. This tendency increases the smaller the customer focus of the IT organization is,” said Dick. “We also know from the consumer world that customer-focused business is becoming increasingly important, and is increasingly a distinguishing factor. Furthermore, research shows that companies who are customer-focused generate better returns than companies that aren’t. So why shouldn’t the same apply to an IT organization?”
The white paper is not just a theory: the authors have tried to lay down a framework so that readers have a lot of support. “We are introducing a Nine Layers Model, which includes all the facets of a customer-focused company. We have put a maturity model next to that, so you can determine where the first steps should be placed. In addition, we’ve taken a lot of material from the world of Customer Contact Centres among others, like customer journey-like techniques, and the way they build scripts, to solidify directly implementable solutions like customer satisfaction surveys.”
The contributions made by Mark de Kort come more from the perspective of business intelligence, like translating strategy into concrete, measurable changes. “This is particularly clearly reflected in strategy mapping as the applied technique,” said Dick. “That should ensure the new path takes root and is secured. It has to be imprinted on everyone’s minds, every single day. I know from experience that many good intentions eventually get diluted, and the only thing that ultimately remains is an annual customer satisfaction survey. That obviously doesn’t get you very far. Customer focus should be located within the DNA of an IT company.”
Securing the future in a positive way
Mark de Kort and Dick Pouw hope that the white paper: ‘Are there any remaining customers for an IT company?’ will help a lot of IT organizations secure their futures in a positive way.