Have you been hearing more and more about how focusing on customer success will drive real business results? You aren’t alone.
As business leaders, we are always looking for the next way to drive bottom-line success. There is a lot of new energy around focusing on customers because it hits on an absolute truth – you can’t succeed without customers who are engaged with your company, and who want to buy your products or services
Despite the renewed focus, the roots of customer-centric business models actually originate from the Just-In-Time (JIT) principles popular in the 80’s as globalization took hold. As we have explored a bit in our last webinar, industries such as travel and transportation offer great examples of how JIT can advance both business and customer needs.
As a refresher, JIT started in Japan and took off during the 1980s as a radical approach to ensuring firms ran as lean as possible, yet still delivered exactly what the customer wanted. Its roots were in manufacturing and inventory management. Strategically, JIT meant reorienting your strategy around three things:
- Visibility and predictability of customer demand.
- Reducing waste and slack in the value chain.
- Focusing on quality and continuous improvement.
JIT requires a LOT of precision and coordination. You’d have to work really, really hard to ensure all the silos of individual business units, processes, and IT so they all work together seamlessly in service of the customer – at exactly the right time, in exactly the right quantity.
Even if you could get those quantities right, things would run so lean that if anything happens along the value chain the customer may feel it immediately. Take the Japanese earthquake earlier this year, when damaged factories and parts shortages caused production stoppage for companies like Toyota and Sony.[i]
Toyota, the poster-child of JIT success, showed in the aftermath of the earthquake the weaknesses of JIT – everything has to work almost perfectly because there’s no room for error. So while JIT in theory was great, it had a lot of flaws based on the pure inflexibility of how companies were delivering goods and services.
Fast-forward to today. Cloud technology brings us part-way to reducing some of JIT’s biggest flaws. The cloud’s ability to deliver on-demand infrastructure and compute power makes it easier to scale up and down in response to market changes, something business user and IT leaders have dreamed of for years. SaaS also brings business functionality at a speed that was impossible with on-premise technology, making it more efficient and faster to adapt business processes to changing customer demand.
But cloud technology alone isn’t enough — it still doesn’t do much on its own to connect all the different data and processes together that you need to make JIT’s principles work seamlessly. Service management does unite all of the components you need to get one view of the customer and be able to effectively serve customers where they are, when they want. You can use service management as the backbone of modern JIT to turn your company into a fully customer-centric business.
Illustration: How Service Management Unifies Your Business In Service To Your Customer
Service management brings transparency and visibility to business processes, giving companies a foundation for their JIT (and customer-centric) approaches. By implementing service management, you can automate critical processes, and make the intangible parts of your customer’s experience visible and traceable.
The lessons learned from JIT can be applied to becoming a customer-centric business – and now service management exists to help realize the benefits while lessening the downsides.
At Acorio we think ServiceNow offers the best option to get to customer-centric business operations. Let us show you how you can make your business customer-centric with ServiceNow.