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SERVING CUSTOMER INTEREST means really wanting to be involved:

Koos Minnema 22-12-2020

SERVING CUSTOMER INTERESTS IS OFTEN COMPLEX: While clearing out my archives, I came across an article from the Financieel Dagblad of Saturday, October 7, 2017. Already more than 3 years ago and yet it made me think. The article by Mr Marcel Canoy was entitled: "Why customer interest is complex for the financial world". Nice title if you consider that the world has only become more complex since then.

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If I sum up the article in a few words, the conclusion is too simple for words:

If people don't see each other, if people don't know each other, then spreadsheets and KPIs take over. People react to the stimuli they receive through these channels. They adjust their behavior accordingly; from an inward focus.

CAUSES OF COMPLEXITY

Am I missing the point when I say that we have seen this happen in many places in 2020 - including outside the financial world?

Hard work, often at a distance, with an inward focus. And that is not bad. Take a look at 'job titles' and their influence on the whole within organizations.

- The Sales Manager- is in charge of managing the sales.

- The Financial Manager- is managing finance.

- The Logistics Manager- is concerned with managing logistics.

- The Production Manager- is in charge of managing production.

See the picture?

It's as if people within their own organisation are working extremely hard on their own square metres.

Before you know it, customers have become faceless and reduced to a customer number. Digitization brings this in a rapids. Let me be clear, we can be happy with the development of digitization, it's just good that it exists. I would not know how we could successfully pass the current COVID19 period without digitization.

Yet there is a danger which should not be underestimated if people in B2B processes focus more on their own internal world. An increasingly inward-looking organisation will emerge, with the highest goal being the short-term financial result. Because if our direct manager is happy and the shareholder is satisfied, then we can continue to work in peace in these hectic times", or so we think.

WAKE UP CALL

Fortunately, more and more people are discovering that we have 0% influence on trends. Just look at COVID worldwide, what direct influence did you have on that?

Included in this same list are -Centrally made decisions by customers on how their employees may interact with suppliers-.The current Government actions. Not to mention Brexit, Global Warming, The election in the US...... Continue for a while?

Yet there is hope. You have for 100% yourself in the hand HOW you deal with a situation.

A frequently chosen option in 2020 was to take shelter - close the shutters and let the storm blow over until better times. To have a sense of 'hold on' and 'control' you saw the following actions:

  1. More focus on KPIs (key performance indicators)
  2. A strong focus on the short term, because we don't know whether we will still be here tomorrow. Incidentally, in many companies it is not an unwillingness to look ahead. In many companies the growing delusion of the day prevails.
  3. People who keep their streets clean under the motto; 'if there is a reorganisation I will survive it' -but in the meantime they lose sight of the bigger picture-.

The result was that many DT and MT were forced to fall back into the more directive leadership style of 'command and control'. Taking decisions, using actions to obtain speed. Understandable but not always wise when a crisis lasts too long. If you restrict employees' autonomy, this will initially incite resistance, then move into the phase of dissatisfaction, followed by major divisions within the group.

WHAT IF THE WORLD CHANGES PERMANENTLY?

Then it might be wiser to make sure all hands are on deck. Keeping the ship upright on the wild sea by making optimal use of all available opportunities, involving and deploying all crew members with their talents. So all of us together and not just the captain and a part of the crew.

Discovering and increasing the resilience of the organisation. Resilience arises when managers and colleagues reflect among themselves in an honest, respectful and open way on the results achieved, combined with the desire to lift yourself and your environment to a higher level. And from there helping customers in their process. Letting clients experience the added value of your company and maintaining and even expanding the relationship from a distance. Processes run faster and more efficiently from mutual trust with as a result a better use of resources and thus cost control.

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT DOING THIS?

Consider the 5 tips below and, most importantly, supplement them with the thoughts of all employees.

-Form customer teams, consisting of people from different departments.

Ensure that team members know each other well in order to deploy the right qualities.

-Visit clients together.

Now of course via TEAMS, ZOOM or other digital ways so that the customer keeps a name and a face. And vice versa, so you as a supplier keep a face with customers. Deepen your understanding of what they do, what their plans are, get to know them better. Find out how you can actually help them. Provide good reporting, where everyone involved can access, so that it is always clear what the state of affairs is and people can take proactive actions and strengthen each other.

Pair up an employee with a similar function to that of the customer. Lines are shortened, mutual understanding grows, problems become challenges, 'me and the other' become 'the other and me' and then 'we together'.

Let them contact each other via TEAMS and ZOOM-like connections, in addition to telephone - and the often already high volume of e-mail traffic. Realize and accept that this approach takes time. The results will not be immediately visible.

Winning trust takes time. That is why support from the management and the MT is a must, so join in, 'walk the talk'! Want to know more or need a brainstorm? We at Kenneth Smit are ready to assist you.

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