A few years ago,, I wrote a blog post titled Change Is Not A Dirty Word – It Is A Major Business Imperative.  Since then, there have probably been hundreds of business books and who knows how many thousand articles and blog post published on this subject.  And yet, I still run into many, many businesses that are stuck in the past.

Why should you care?

In that earlier post I wrote:

Breakthrough business author Anthony Roberts is quoted as saying “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”  

That’s OK if the situations you are dealing with have not changed.  Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, the business world is in a constant state of flux and the rate of change is increasing.  This all means that Tony is wrong; if you do what you always did, you will not get what you have always gotten – you will get something very different.  And the different outcome will probably make your situation worse.

And the “worse situation” generally involves layoffs, acquisitions, and bankruptcy.

What Should a Service Executive or Manager Do?
First, let me say that unless the total business gets on board and learns to embrace change, any effort you initiate in your organization may help you, but will still leave your company in jeopardy.  But that is no reason not to try.  After all, every initiative needs a leader and why shouldn’t it be you?

When you are ready to start your metamorphosis you should internalize the fact that people (i.e., customers) only buy products and services if using them will help the buyer improve the outcomes from their work.  For example:

  • If they are running a manufacturing process, then improved outcomes can mean better on-time delivery, greater output with the same or less input, improved product quality, or lower costs.
  • If your customer is managing an airline, then improved outcomes include improved on-time performance, greater equipment utilization, fewer unscheduled cancellations, or improved customer satisfaction.
  • If your customers are big in e-commerce, then improved outcomes can include improved inventory accuracy, faster pick and pack rates, less labor per order, and improved on-time delivery.

I think you get it.  But now you want to know how you can improve customer outcomes.  Here are two ways.  First, talk to a few of your customer facing technical people.  They may be service technicians, applications engineers, or field managers.  Explain what you are trying to do and why, and then ask a few basic questions and listen to their responses.  Make it a lively discussion.  If what you hear seems to make sense to you then confirm your beliefs by checking with others in your company and department.

Secondly, pick a few friendly customers and visit them.  See how they use your products.  Ask lots of questions.  When you feel confident, ask about the viability of your suggestion.  If you get a positive response, then really probe the customers perceived benefits, issues that would prevent implementing your solution, and eventually how much the savings would monetize to per month or year.

If things work out well, you then can propose a pilot project, making sure that costs and benefits are shared since you both have unidentified risks to manage.  And, if you are successful, then use it as an example to expand your department’s change and eventually let the word spread throughout your company.

Of course, its not going to be as easy as I just described.  If you would like to discuss how Middlesex Consulting could help you move the needle, then please contact Sam