The purpose, well. We thought is was to discussion and demonstrate the new delivery model that had been put in place since August of last year. Review its progress against the objectives; Share where things were working well and where they were not. Finally, agree how we would work together to deliver the necessary improvements. Sounds simple doesn't it?
Humm.... The pre-meeting was stressful as there was a lack of share purpose, lack of agenda, and many moments of angst. The overriding issue was people wanted to demonstrate how great things were going, the progress we had made and the improvements. In other words in the "Inside-Out Approach".
Me, well I was different. I kept asking the question what was the customer end benefit? What would the customer have wanted the results to reflect? What were their perceptions and how could we reflect these in the presentation? In other words "Outside-In thinking".
"Inside-Out vs Outside-In"
Put simply, there are two different paradigms in business today: the Inside-Out approach and the Outside-In approach. George S. Day and Christine Moorman called them the two paths to strategy in their book Strategy from the Outside-In from 2010.
The Inside-Out approach is guided by the belief that the inner strengths and capabilities of the organisation will make the organisation prevail. The Outside-In approach is instead guided by the belief that customer value creation, customer orientation and customer experiences are the keys to success.
Today’s “Inside-Out” outsourcing processes and decision making tools often begin with “the problem.” They are initiated in response to existing pain points and the processes focus solely on those capabilities that will fix the pain and make the customer “feel better.”
On the other hand, an “Outside-in” process begins and ends with the end customer in the centre of your mind. The process is initiated in response to strategic needs that exist outside the outsource provider, and the processes focuses on how to enable an improved customer experience. For example: in retail - till availability, in banking - queue lengths, in hospitality – wait times for food, etc.
Anyway, back to the story…..
We completed the slide presentation and three senior members of the customer service executive arrived. Brief introductions and then onto the meat of the meeting. Slide 1 was put up and the meeting crashed! The team had decided to show a slide from a previous meeting as a hook in to this meeting. However, no one had mentioned that the customer exec had complained about the slide before as it did not represent the customer expectations of an overall store call volume reduction. We had made it even worse as we had put a small dot in the bottom right hand corner to signify that this was the point where things had changed. Completely, meaningless and “pointless” to the customer!!
A 20 minute discussion ensued on what the customer wanted. I had ready mentioned previously that the customer probably wanted to see the overall reduction in incidents, not only those delivered on site. This was, in fact what the customer was driving to. We concluded the meeting with the actions to present on: overall store call volume reduction, till uptime, and mean time between failures of key pieces of equipment.
So when you are preparing for a major client meeting, remember to think “Outside-In” in the customer eyes. Finally, remember that even a dot on a slide has meaning.
For further discussion on “Outside-In” thinking, I refer you to this great HBR – Harvard Business Review – article: