Does Social spell the end of the Outside-In customer experience?



Theo Priestley
10/15/2012

Social business is about connection, trust, transparency, and engagement. That means it's time to design processes to reflect just how interconnected all the touch-points are - not just from a customer viewpoint - says Theo Priestley.

As the Benioff vision of a 21stcentury connected enterprise resonates through the industry I can’t help notice that there are those still pushing messages from the 80s and 90s. Outside-In for me remains one of the last bastions and relics of the 20thcentury when the world of business has kicked up a notch and is already breaking into the 21st.

Outside-In is the notion that we view all that we do from the Customer’s viewpoint; business processes, interactions, customer service, marketing. We place the customer at the heart of the process and all of a sudden we claim to achieve customer-centricity.

Wrong.

The mirror image of a flawed concept does not remove the flaw itself

Where in the 90s business focus was a very selfish and inside-out view (ie profit is king and the customer helps us achieve it) the immediate reaction for those looking for a fix was to turn that strategy 180 and seek an Outside-In approach.

However the problem here is that the concept itself is inherently flawed, the mirror image of a flawed concept does not remove the flaw itself. Where once we were designing internally focused processes looking out, we are now designing processes from the outside looking in……it’s all still a one-way vision and approach.

The fact that both Social and Mobile are forcing organisations to completely rethink business and customer strategy means they can no longer afford to follow concepts and methods designed from the last decade.

Like I’ve written in another article on the social business equation on my own blog, it’s all about connection, trust, transparency, engagement. Every one of those concepts is not a one-way flow, every one requires a real relationship that is built on a mutual view of the interaction, that both the customer and the business see each other throughout in the interaction, not just from one perspective. That is how trust, the purported currency of the social business, is gained; through the transparency of the processes involved, of the interactions, of the connection and engagement.

The singular mindset of simply putting the customer first does not equate to a successful enterprise and process outcome anymore. Similarly, how we design processes should reflect just how interconnected all the touch-points are, not just from a customer viewpoint, which is why methods born in the past have no place in where business is moving towards today. The sooner the decay stops the sooner organisations will rapidly evolve.

In the connected enterprise, everyone is the customer.

Next post I'll discuss why Marketing should be forming an integral part of your process improvement input.

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