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Company Structure in the Age of the Customer

· Org Structure,Customer Focus,Sales process,Greg Twemlow

You will often see this kind of statement, “We’re shaping our business to deliver amazing customer experiences”. There’s clearly merit in the concept and motivation. When you dig deeper to understand the drivers behind this kind of change you realize that tweaking corporate structures just doesn’t go far enough.

The fundamental changes impacting companies have been building for decades and now are coalescing around the power of the customer and how the old concept of the sales process has changed forever. Coupled with the relentless evolution in technology, changing mechanisms for securing human talent and the realization that Brand is at the very core of the company’s beating heart, it’s time for some radical surgery on traditional corporate structures.

Traditionally organizations structured themselves in silos. Organizing in silos makes life predictable and well defined. It doesn’t empower people to make decisions to strengthen customer loyalty. Silos all have their own specific performance metrics that in effect lead to dysfunctional behavior relative to what we now appreciate as the customer journey. Issue is, as you goal people, so will they behave.

A simple example is how call center performance is typically based on the standard metrics of carefully managing call time. Call Center KPIs drive behavior and often agents work out that it means a focus on getting the ticket out of their queue and into someone else’s. Service agents play the game of keeping on top of their KPIs at the expense of everything else including actually solving the customer’s issue.

Companies have realized for decades that they needed to get their silos collaborating more effectively. This recognition of the problem has spawned tech startups offering collaboration solutions, as if a layer of tech will magically solve the problem. Several of these collaboration tech companies are now valued at over $1bn.

I could list dozens of examples of how traditional corporate structures do not function well around Brand and Customer. I’m sure most people will know exactly what I mean.

I’m proposing a new model that isn’t really that radical. It’s a model that recognizes the 4 pillars of every organization — Brand, People, Data and Innovation. The big change is recognition that nothing is more important than Customer and that same customer is now in control of the sales process and can churn away from you often with a few keystrokes and in minutes.

Company structure by Greg Twemlow

The example structure that I developed is a first step to the kinds of changes every company has to come to terms with. It’s not intended as a universal model nor one that won’t require further adjustments. It’s a step in the right direction that reflects the way business functions in the age of Customer.

As CEO of AIRDOCS Global, I’m constantly reminded of the power of customers and how difficult it is for long established companies to make the kinds of adjustments they need to make. There’s often tremendous inertia, plain old fear of change and even vested interests that can effectively block the kinds of change I know is required.

Be proactive and move in this direction before your customers churn away to deal with a startup that has organized itself around the customer journey.

Explanatory notes:

1. People will perform one or more roles depending on the size of company. For just about any size company the role of Chief Customer Officer is essential.

2. There are 4 pillars that form the foundations of the company — Brand, People, Data and Innovation.

3. Brand is the beating heart of the company and the company forms around its concept of “brand”. What does this company represent? How will it behave? What will be its contribution to our society?

4. People, from the Founder/s to the senior staff and including contractors and suppliers, will be a key competitive advantage.

5. Data is one of the 4 pillars on which your company will grow and prosper. This function incorporates responsibility to gather and leverage data and the use of A.I.

6. Innovation has to be a pillar and has to become part of the fabric of the company.

7. Customer is in effect the raison d’être of the business. Nothing is more important than “Customer”.

8. The Chief Customer Officer is basically the most critical role of all and has responsibility for the entire Customer Journey, including working to win back a customer who’s churned away. Reporting to the CCO is the GM of Customer Growth, previously known as GM or VP of Sales. This new structure reflects the enormous changes that have occurred in the traditional notion of the sales process and how customers are now very much in control. The role of GM or VP Customer Loyalty can be interchangeable with titles like Customer Success, Customer Service and incorporate Customer Support.

9. The remaining positions are the traditional roles, of COO, CFO and CTO. There is a strong argument that over time the CTO role could become part of a shared services platform rather than the notion that an organizations technology services team is a competitive advantage.

About the author: Greg Twemlow is CEO of AIRDOCS Global. You can connect with him via his LinkedIn profile at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gregtwemlow

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