Lack of Service Sows Seeds of Outsourcing

Let’s face it. For many companies, the level of service to customers is lacking across the entire spectrum of their customer base, and service to internal customers is even worse.

The cruel irony of all the maneuvering inside companies to protect departments is that the only goal that matters — service to internal and external customers — gets lost. In that loss is the seeds of outsourcing.

The customer still has needs, getting more and more urgent. But too many companies are too busy fighting internal political battles to ever see the big picture — true market competitiveness — and they totally miss opportunities. Too many companies have managers, directors, vice presidents and even C-level executives winning their political battles but losing the customer war.

No wonder smaller, more agile, more cohesive competitors are cleaning their clocks in the market.

Not Entitlement, But Focus

With such a myopic view on protecting jobs, these managers are driving their companies into the ground. Like a mechanic who forgets to put oil into an engine, these managers are missing the vital lubricant — cooperation internally and forever looking to improve internal processes to serve their customers — for the sake of protecting their own jobs.

It’s no wonder that so many customer-facing organizations in these politically infested companies turn to outsourcing to get their applications built and, at a minimum, go after hosting applications. No one in a customer-based strategy role who has accountability to serve customers has the time to wait for all the internal political maneuverings to play out — just blast by it in the name of serving customers, and let the other departments work out their own agendas.

Being a global competitor starts with looking at the most broken processes that touch and grow a customer relationship. This can be everything from quote-to-order and quote-to-cash to guided selling and order capture. It also can include lead management and escalation — even service calls and warranty management. Going after even the small improvements can make a company more competitive. It’s no accident that outsourcing companies are actively going after areas where customer-facing departments are not getting this work done. Lack of service between departments opens the door to outsourcers every time.

Better Mechanics Needed

CRM and all the strategies it includes is fertile ground for outsourcers. With so many managers trying to protect jobs in their companies rather than letting performance speak for itself, CRM can become the great equalizer.

One way to do it is to index salary and bonus to peer-level reviews across internal and external customers, and make them anonymous. For example, Comergent has done an excellent job of this with their professional services organization. The political logjam that forces departments to outsource would get knocked out of the way if more companies did this.

Everybody selling every day will save more jobs than either presidential candidate’s promises. If your company is concerned about outsourcing either IT or manufacturing jobs, it’s time to get more people selling — more people on the front lines working with customers — winning more deals and getting more intense in the competition, not inside the company, but against emerging and more focused competitors.

This is common sense, but it is amazing how managers want their departments to be winning political skirmishes internally, but they are losing the customer war.

Stealth Weapon

CRM can be a stealth weapon, if only people used it aggressively. So what that all your salespeople complain about their CRM system and the fact that they have to enter data. Let’s be honest. Have you ever met a salesperson who didn’t complain? I did once, and he was asleep. So, get over the complaints, and start getting into the customer system and get some aggressive strategies planned.

A company ceases to be relevant when it ceases to serve. The laughable irony of so many managers decrying outsourcing out of one side of their mouth, but engaging in political maneuverings to stomp one department out of existence so their jobs can be in the victor’s division, is exactly why a few outsourcing companies have more than $1 billion in revenues.

Bottom line: Outsourcing really represents your customer voting for higher levels of service, more attention to their costs, more focus on their needs. The fact it’s hitting manufacturing headcount is just a broader symptom of a broader cancer: lack of focus on customers, lack of use of CRM as an aggressive weapon, and, worst of all, lack of service to ourselves to make our companies stronger. CRM can strengthen our service if only we can get over our political agendas.

Louis Columbus, a CRM Buyer columnist, is a former senior analyst with AMR Research and is founder of LWC Research, a firm specializing in CRM, sell-side e-commerce, sales and product configuration and guided selling.

Leave a Comment

Please sign in to post or reply to a comment. New users create a free account.

CRM Buyer Channels