Thursday, 27 April 2017

Customer...

We all have read and several times repeatedly heard that “Customers are the King” and several such customer oriented statements. Indeed Customers are the very purpose any business thrives upon or else the very existence and sustainability will be questionable.
Recently I was invited to talk on leadership and was interacting with the senior leadership team of India’s largest manufacturer and exporter of colour for the plastic processing industry. During the debrief of an activity one of the participants stood up and said something which was astoundingly truth. He said it’s easier to deal with the external customers but more difficult to deal with our internal customers and he was referring to the depts. / teams he has to interact day in day out. This lead to a difficult conversation in the class amidst the senior leadership team and quite embarrassing for the rest. Using facilitative process we were able to bring about convergence towards one voice and co create the action points from the pain areas. The leadership team fully participated and also shared their “Needs” and “Wants” to make the action plans workable.    
I left the place with much richer knowledge and experience of having worked with senior leadership team who were committed to their work and not afraid of hierarchy being present in the room. They had a different culture which was very inspiring to see.  
I started reflecting on the statement “Difficult to deal with internal customers and easy to deal with external customers” while I was driving back home. Indeed, in many organizations and teams I have known this part is conveniently ignored and the entire ecosystem is factored around external customer delight, focus, etc leaving aside the internal customer story. More often than not it’s taken for granted and conflicts across the team, interdepartmental issues are just brushed around the carpet to look and feel hunky dory. Its time organizations woke up to the reality and faced the softer issues such as interdepartmental issues with kid gloves. Some organizations have Service Level agreements. However, the way it gets executed makes the whole difference. If the purpose is just a tick mark exercise once a year or an compliance activity then like all good systems it will have its natural death. Do we have any value proposition for working on such deeper issues? Of course, apart from the HR cliché such as rise in the Employee engagement, arresting the attrition, etc it directly leads to happy internal customer serving the external customer with much more delight, pride and satisfaction. And much more…………
Would be interesting to hear your views, comments, best practices in this area?