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Business processes are collections of  structured activities and tasks that produce a specific product/service for your customer(s); they encapsulate ‘WHAT you do’ and ‘HOW you do it’.

Does my Process look big in this?

Over time, these processes progressively become bloated, overweight, and unfit (for purpose).

The focus and effectiveness of your processes shapes your business: it determines your bottom-line costs, impacts the top-line revenue and, ultimately, the profit (or loss) made by your company. But there is much more to it than that.

Looking back, we began this series with the article:

Still focussing on your products? You’re doomed to extinction”.

Organisations that only focus on improving processes from an internal perspective could also face the same fate as the dinosaurs – in all likelihood, they are still shooting wide of the mark when it comes to meeting the needs of the customer.

“We know our customers, and give them want they want”

If I was to ask you – what percentage of your activities add value to the customer, you would probably say 60-80%, right?  You would probably be surprised to find out that if I ask your customers the same question about those same activities, they would answer that only 20-40% of what you did was valuable to them.  This gaping chasm between the customers' perception and your organisations perception is the direct result of your approach to improving internal process efficiencies with insufficient focus on the customer.

“Outside-in” is the new “inside-out”

The 21st century organisation must move beyond the “inside-out” thinking of manufacturing-based process approaches that seek to ‘squeeze the last drops' of efficiency out of current ways of working. They must adopt “outside-in” thinking and methods that drive change from the external customer perspective. This external perspective is at the heart of a customer centric approach that aligns organisational structure, information and processes, to deliver products and services to both internal and external customers in the most direct and agile way.

Organisations that continue to evolve from the “inside-out” are simply building a more efficient version of the existing ways of working – further entrenching today’s complexities and poor practice.  The “outside-in”, customer-centric approach, demands that organisations re-evaluate everything that they do – identifying  simpler ways to serve the customer in ways that deliver a relevant, convenient and enjoyable experience.

But we like things the way they are!

Many organisations – and the people within them – are intrinsically resistant to change. Often, external impetus from impartial independent consultants is needed to help organisations to unearth deeply embedded inefficiencies and behaviours. Providing organisations with the necessary support, tools and techniques, external consultants can ensure that people in your company are enabled and motivated to tackle these challenges collaboratively, allowing them to model best practice themselves. By ‘embedding’ these behaviours and techniques within your organisation, customer-centricity becomes ‘business as usual’ (BAU) – enabling your team to innovate and deliver further sustainable change into the business, without continued assistance from external consultants.

Depending on the particular organisation, ‘quick wins’ can usually be identified and implemented well in advance of any mid-term/long-term strategic business changes.

So – you seek the Holy Grail?

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
ARTHUR: That is our quest. You know much that is hidden, O Tim.
TIM: Quite.
From Scene 32

Recent experience with a number of clients has shown that building a customer centric ethos and architecture into the heart of your business processes will improve the ultimate business benefit derived from any business change.

Indeed, by placing the customer at the centre of everything you do, it is feasible – almost inevitable – that you will achieve the ‘holy grail' of bottom-line cost savings, as well as top-line revenue increases. By focussing on delivering these successful outcomes, organisations find that customer-centric business change programmes quickly pay for themselves.

The chasm I mentioned earlier – between what you think and what your customers think – is quiet shocking.  At the same time though, it represents a fabulous opportunity to bridge that gap by re-alligning your processes around what your customers really want from you.

So – what do you seek – do you know what customer centric processes look like? Do you know how to gain insight into what your customers really want?

And what are you going to do to avoid being “cast into the Gorge of Eternal Peril”?!