Let's Talk Voice of Customer

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Robin Lawton has been a long time favorite of mine. His book, Creating a Customer-Centered Culture: Leadership in Quality, Innovation, and Speed offers some valuable insights even though it was written 20-years ago. I still use it on a regular basis and find it valuable in assisting people to more service centered thinking. The podcast with Rob, Lets Talk Voice of Customer is an excellent resource for both sales and marketers and quality professionals. This is a transcription of the Business901 podcast with Robin.


<ul><li> 1. Business901Podcast Transcription Implementing Lean Marketing SystemsLets Talk Voice of Customer Guest was Robin LawtonSponsored byRelated Podcast: Lets Talk Voice of CustomerLets Talk Voice of Customer Copyright Business901</li></ul><p> 2. Business901Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsROBIN LAWTON: Author, Customer Strategist,Keynote/Motivational Speaker, Consultant, Teacher and CoachRobin inspires, motivates, educatesand equips his audiences and clientsto do what they never thoughtpossible. His passion, practicality andinteractive presentation style create anunusual intellectual, emotional andgenuine connection. His thought-leadingprinciples are combined with humor andentertaining style to thoroughly engagehis audiences. Its probably why he wasranked #1 of 88 speakers by aninternational organization and rated topspeaker at every multi-speaker event where he presents.For over 25 years, clients that have applied his paradigm-bustingsystem have wowed their customers, risen to best-in-class, madedramatic improvements in business growth, saved millions ofdollars and strengthened their leadership practices. Those clientsinclude many from the Fortune 500 as well as leaders in firmsfrom Asia to South Africa and from many industries andgovernment agencies. Rob coined the term "customer-centeredculture" (C3) with his 1993 best-selling book, Creating aCustomer-Centered Culture: Leadership in Quality, Innovationand Speed . Unusual for a business book, it is 5-star rated onAmazon.com. His work has been published in the U.K., Brazil,China and referenced widely. Mr. Lawton has been named Guruby American Society for Quality, is listed in Whos Who inBusiness Leaders and recognized by others as a leader amongleaders. Lets Talk Voice of CustomerCopyright Business901 3. Business901Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Transcription of PodcastJoe:Welcome, everyone. This is Joe Dager, the host of theBusiness901 podcast. With me today is Robin Lawton.Rob coined the term customer centered culture, withhis best-selling book, Creating a Customer CenteredCulture, which I have to say is a book I still reference20 years later. Rob is the president of InternationalManagement Technologies and considered aninternational expert in creating rapid strategicalignment between enterprise objectives and customerpriorities. Rob, Id like to welcome you. Could you giveme the elevator speech about your company andyourself, to start out?Rob:Joe, its a pleasure to talk with you. I guess there aretwo aspects to the elevator speech, if youd like. One ison me, personally. The other is about my methodology.Let me start with the me, personally, part. Most people,especially people looking at leaders in businesses, asIve been fortunate to be called, would hardly expectthose people to tell you about their time in prison. Thatis where I started my career, surprisingly. I began mycareer in the psychiatric ward of a maximum-securityfacility, which at the time, was the largest such place inthe US. Now, I know that there are some folks who arelistening to this who are thinking "Oh, for crying outloud. We finally got somebody willing to tell the truthabout their misdeeds."No. Not exactly, of course, those who know me are notsurprised to hear that I spent time in prison. Actually, Iwas there as an employee. Without going into all thedetails here, I will tell you that anybody who talks Lets Talk Voice of CustomerCopyright Business901 4. Business901Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsabout how difficult change is has nothing to comparewith my experience when I first began. When I was 23years old, I was a college trainee 07 in stategovernment, as an employee in corrections. I was in anadministrative position. Because I felt very stronglythat I could make a difference, I actually attempted todo so. Some of that is written up in my book. Much ofit, I dont talk about too much. It will be in my nextbook, which hopefully will be out within the next year.Basically, what I was able to do was apply what I callcommon sense. I saw people sitting around in atemporary facility where I worked. They were supposedto be sent to a receiving facility to start serving theirsentence. I saw them wasting their time, meaning theywere there for typically a month and a half to twomonths, not doing anything. What I saw as a result ofthat was a lot of bad stuff. People were beingvictimized and at the same time the system incurringgreat expenses. There were a variety of things needingchange.It wasnt rocket science. I hadnt been trained in thisstuff. I basically said, You know what, guys? If wecould organize this system a little bit differently, wecould probably shortcut all of this and eliminate a lot ofthe problems. I wrote up a proposal to the warden andgave it to him. His first response was basically, "Gee.You know; weve never had any problems like this untilyou got here." It was my introduction to the nature ofchange. Fortunately for me, I quickly got a new boss,not because of that experience with the warden, but itwas independent of that, which led to someenlightenment. He came to me one day, and he said,"Things suck around here. Do you think you can do Lets Talk Voice of CustomerCopyright Business901 5. Business901Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemssomething about finding some alternatives?" I gavehim my report. He loved it. We executed it, and a yearlater; we had shortened the cycle time from an averageof 45 days to 15 days. We saved about 40% of thebudget of the facility. We did a lot of other things thatimproved the life of people there, as well as for thestaff. That was my start in my career. I got turned onby that. I ultimately changed careers a few years later.I went from corrections to, of course, kind of a linearpath; I went to computers.Joe:Thats a role change.Rob:If you think about it, the skills that one has aretransferable. Fortunately, I was hired by a guy who wasa certifiable genius in this computer business. Herecognized that I didnt fit the mold, to put it mildly. Ihad some skills that he thought would be of goodvalue. Sure enough, I did some things there whichincluded improving productivity in one division of thebusiness by about 50%, in a two-year period. That gotme some notoriety as well, which was positive.Ultimately, I went and started my business in 1985,trying to teach others the methodology that had takenme a few years to develop. All of this was developed ina non-manufacturing environment. Thats really aboutme.Joe:What does the International Management Technologiesdo? Are they a consulting/coaching organization? Whatdo they do?Rob:We have several products. Probably the most popular,most frequently provided product right now isKeynotes. I am a Keynotes speaker. I speak all over Lets Talk Voice of CustomerCopyright Business901 6. Business901Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsthe world. My audience is typically senior leadershipand management, those people interested in makingtheir organizations more customer-centered than theyare today. Thats one key area. We also do training. Wehave workshops. I have numerous publications on thisC3 methodology, most of which are on our website.Also, I have whats called a C3 mentoring program,where I will guide specific change agents within anenterprise, whether theyre master black belts orwhether theyre VPs. In some cases, theyre CEOs. Illguide them, just by phone. We set up regularinteraction to do that. I give them a set of tools whichare not available anywhere else. Tools, Keynotes,workshops, publications, and the mentoring programwould be our core products.We also have a program on project management. Thisproject management approach is one for where thesolution is unknown. Most project management isbased on the idea that we know we want to build abridge from here to there, and your job as projectmanager is to go do it. However, people in theimprovement world, thats not their situation. Theirsituation is that they have some kind of a problemtheyre trying to solve, and they dont really know whatthe solution is. That is the program that we have that isreally superb at helping them find what the problem isactually, which is really not what they usually think itis. What are the best solutions to solve it? We haveseen savings for organizations, like over $20 million intwo years. Things like that, along with dramaticimprovement in customer engagement.Joe:Before we start with some of the things, youre doingpresently; I cant miss this opportunity to talk about Lets Talk Voice of CustomerCopyright Business901 7. Business901Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsyour original book for a few minutes. You were one ofthe first people that I know of that highlighted theinternal services that we do in an organization, andstarted talking about them as products.Rob:Thats a great question. Really, the way it was receivedthen is the same way its received now, very frankly.That is, for those 90% plus of us in the industrializedworld, or the post-industrialized world is really moreaccurate to say, we do not personally make widgets.We do not produce something personally that is amanufactured device. In the mid 80s, shortly after Istarted my business, I began work with Motorola. Iworked with Motorola for about 10 years. Motorola, atthat time, was not unlike any other manufacturing firmin the sense that they viewed themselves asmanufacturers of certain devices. However, you will notfind any manager who will tell you that theymanufacture something. Their big problem there, like itis with every organization today, is that the vastmajority of people in the enterprise do not know how toapply the 20th century thinking about quality,productivity, leadership, management, and thingsrelated to their own work, because theyre busy tryingto find widgets to apply things to.What I did was I took a look at the linguistics involvedbecause thats part of my background. If we look at theword service, it has a lot of ambiguity to it. In fact, ifyou line up any 10 people at random and ask them,"What does service mean? you will not get agreement.You will get 9 or 10 different responses, which meansthat when an organizations leadership says, "Our aimis to have excellent service," everyone, on the onehand, will agree to that being a good thing, but no one Lets Talk Voice of CustomerCopyright Business901 8. Business901Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemswill agree on what it means. I saw that. This is notrocket science. We all know this, but nobody actuallyworked with it, and I did. I said, "If widgets areproducts, and all the literature and all the expertise forthe last hundred and so years has been built on theconcept that we have to build quality products thatcustomers want, but we dont know what our productis, what would that be? What would that stuff be?"I discovered that if we describe our work as consistingof products that you can make plural with an S, it doesa whole bunch of wonderful things. One is it removesthe ambiguity of how we describe our work. Secondly,it describes what we do, in terms of deliverables we cancount, we can make plural with an S, and every one ofthose deliverables has customers associated with it. Itreally provides an opportunity to, for the first time,really focus on customers. In fact, you cannot figureout who your customer is explicitly, without firstdefining products.A service product is one of about five unique kinds ofproducts. There is a difference between a serviceproduct and most of the other kinds of products, likemanufactured products, information products, etc. Aservice product is different in that, it requires thecustomers involvement in its production.Appendectomies are service products. If you are not, asa customer, involved in its production, you dont get it.At Disney, rides are products. If you are not on theride, engaged in its production, you dont get it. Theidea is that with service products, unlike manufacturingproducts where youre not engaged in its production,you are involved with its production. But you may not Lets Talk Voice of CustomerCopyright Business901 9. Business901Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemswish to be, in some cases. For example, answers areanother kind of potential service product. Often, we tryto get answers from organizations and were notnecessarily terribly successful in doing that. Theexperience that customers have in acquiring and usinga service product is immediately improved. That is, theability to improve that becomes much, much easier,once we describe work as products.Joe:We really need to understand it this way, before westart designing a customer experience. Is that true?Rob:Yes. Absolutely correct, in fact, usually what we find isthat organizations are busy working on improvingprocesses. That would be activities. We often assumethat whatever that process produces as a deliverable,which we call a product, is in fact what somebodywants. Often that assumption never gets tested. Then,we improve the process for delivering it. Thats verymuch like not questioning that anyone might wantsomething other than a buggy whip. What we do is wework on the process of improving the buggy whip tomake the buggy whip less expensive, meet some kindsof standards, and occur in a shorter time, a variety ofother things like that, without actually questioning,"Why is it that people actually want a buggy whip?" Wewant to start asking the "why" question first, becausewhat we find is in almost every case, answering the"why" question causes us to rethink whether thatproduct is really the best product for the purpose thatits intended for.Joe:When were thinking of service as products, do wecontinue that feature and benefit thinking that we useto market products, and move it to services? Do we Lets Talk Voice of CustomerCopyright Business901 10. Business901Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsthink in that same mentality?Rob:Firstly, I would even back away from just talking aboutservice products and talk about products in general.What we really want to do is broaden our thinkingabout all work and say, "All work needs to be describedas products." Service products are only one kind ofthem. If we even drop that as a qualifier, and we say,"Products are what we want to produce," now whathappens is we can see that the vast majority ofproducts produced by an enterprise are actually usedinternally. That is, theyre consumed internally. Whenwe think about reports, plans, strategies, policies,procedures, charts, those are all products. Those thingsare consumed internally by employees. We often talkabout employees as being customers. Its a greatconcept, but its poor on execution because we haventhad the specificity and the rigor required to make itwork. When we start looking at work as products, nowwe can make the specificity appropriate, so it works fornot o...</p>