CUSTOMER CENTRIC METRICS RESCUE RETAILER FROM STRATEGIC ECCENTRICS:

CUSTOMERS TAKE CARE OF THE PROFITS – HOW INTIMATE ARE YOU WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS?

Tom Peters has long argued the case for Customer Centricity. At the 2011 Progress Conference he said; “The magic formula that business has revealed is to treat their customers like guests and their employees like people.” So what is his 2013 take on strategy and leadership? Think of this as “Tom Peter’s Balanced Scorecard”.

Leaders “Do” People

You take care of the people.

The people take care of the service.

The service takes care of the customer.

The customer takes care of the profit.

The profit takes care of the reinvestment.

The reinvestment takes care of the future.

Now, hold that thought.

In The Execution Premium, Dr Dave Norton and Professor Robert Kaplan evidence the magic of Tom’s winning formula. The book cites a case study of how a large retailer, Store 24, turned around their failed strategy by applying what their CEO Bob Gordon, called their Customer Intimacy programme as a key scorecard metric.

The Store 24 strategy, which was called “Ban Boredom”, seemed like a great idea and a sure fire way to differentiate them from their competitors. The original “Ban Boredom” plan was an exciting strategy providing an entertaining atmosphere with fun promotions and frequent themes. This gave store managers permission and discretion to find ways to execute on the strategy. They dressed up in costumes consistent with themes and holidays and activated imaginative promotions with great displays.

NOT EVERYONE WANTS “DISNEY” MAGICAL MOMENTS – CUSTOMER CENTRIC METRICS SAVED THE DAY

Unfortunately this “Disney” approach had an adverse effect. It seemed that while executed with good intentions, the result was failing on the customer intimacy metric.

It was most fortunate that this strategy was predicated on their “customer intimacy” programme. And by getting “up close and personal” with their customers, they were able to quickly abandon the “Ban Boredom” Programme after two years and replace it with a new strategy.

What their “customer intimacy” programme showed was that the customers valued their traditional strengths of good product selection, quick service and a clean environment. They did not value, AT ALL, the experience they were trying to create. Customers were unhappy with the inattentive store employees dressed in costumes and distracted by the ever-changing displays in store.

METRICS ARE KING

You get what you measure! It’s an old adage and one that could not have been truer for Store 24. Using the Balanced Scorecard approach, the retailer was able to assess customer satisfaction quickly. Not only were they able to change direction quickly, they were also able to identify interesting elements for a comeback strategy.

COMEBACK STRATEGY – “CAUSE YOU JUST CAN’T WAIT”

Their comeback strategy, called “Cause, you just can’t wait”, was wholly based on customer feedback. They realised that flawless execution was essential and further research showed the negative relationship between low skilled employees and operating profit. They were able to show consistently that strategy implementation was only effective when done at stores with high skill crews. They realised, too, that the ability for them to implement their come-back strategy relied heavily on employee satisfaction.

BACK TO TOM!

Which brings us right back to Tom Peters, “Treat your customers like guests and your employees like people. You take care of the people. The people take care of the service. The service takes care of the customer. The customer takes care of the profit.” Most readers will acknowledge that this is very much the Disney leadership model the difference, however, is that it doesn’t mean that every customer wants a “Disney moment”. What does ring true is that if you get the people right, the service will follow. Get that right, and the profits are a natural result.

Having acknowledged the metrics, Store 24 brought back their traditional strengths as a key driver of their customer value proposition and replaced the “fun, entertaining experience” strategy with speed and efficiency as their new value proposition.

BALANCED SCORECARD WINS THE DAY

Had Store 24 not had a Balanced Scorecard in place, they may well have pursued their quirky “Ban Boredom” idea for many more years, with inexperienced and dissatisfied store crews having “fun” at the expense of their customer and profits. Scorecard metrics not only determine how organisations measure up on people, products, processes and resultant profits; they also provide a direct link to customer satisfaction.

Dave Norton urges companies to use an “employee-customer-profit value chain model” as their main management system.

Are you measuring the right things? Do you scrutinise the “employee-customer-profit value” cause and effect relationships? If you did, what might that value chain reveal and offer you in terms of a new strategic opportunity with a high execution premium?

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Dr David Norton is the co-creator of the Balanced Scorecard and leading global practitioner in applying the Balanced Scorecard in both the Private and Public Sector. Together with Professor Robert Kaplan, he has been acclaimed by Harvard Business Review for his significant contribution to the management profession in the past 75 years. More recently Thinkers 50 have ranked them in their Hall of Fame alongside Tom Peters, Kenichi Ohmae, Warren Bennis, Howard Gardner, Henry Mintzberg, Charles Handy, Philip Kotler and Ikujiro Nonaka for their mammoth contribution to business management and leadership.

On the 11th September 2014 Dr Norton will present a full day seminar in Johannesburg on EXECUTING STRATEGY IN A NEW ECONOMY – Balanced Scorecard Essentials.