Saturday, June 27, 2015

Customer Mania: It's Never Too Late to Build a Customer-Focused Company

Title:  Customer Mania:  It's Never Too Late to Build a Customer-Focused Company
Author:  Ken Blanchard, Jim Ballard, Fred Finch
Publication Information:  Free Press. 2004. 208 pages.
ISBN:  0743270282 / 978-0743270281

Book Source:  I read this book based on an interest in Mr. Blanchard's work.

Opening Sentence:  "I have the greatest job in the world"

Favorite Quote:  "If the organization has been built the right way, it will be the Provider of Choice, Employer of Choice, and Investment of Choice."

Customer Mania presents a framework for creating an organizational environment with a customer focus. Unlike some of Mr. Blanchard's other work, this book does not rely on a parable to convey its point. It uses an actual case study - Yum! Brands - the parent company that owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC.

"The most powerful way to produce desired change in an organization is to impact its culture." The case study of Yum! Brands embodies this principle. The three brands have their own unique identity; however, a unified culture permeates all three.

As the cover copy of the book states, building a customer-focused organization entails four steps:

  • Identifying the correct goal or target
  • Treating customers right
  • Treating employees right
  • Building and growing leaders.

The book is set up as a classic case study. The first section presents an introduction and history of Yum! Brands. The next few sections focus on each of the steps in the framework above. Each section consists of three main parts - a benchmark of performance or "Blanchard's Dream;" a description of Yum! Brand's implementation of that step; and a brief scorecard rating Yum! Brand's performance against the benchmark. The final part of the book presents conclusions and future steps.

As with Mr. Blanchard's other books, this book is neatly organized and easy to read.The key points are highlighted using formatting techniques such as fonts, texts boxes, graphics, and lists. A reader can slowly read every details or peruse through quickly and still get the main points of the book.

The one part I wish was further developed is the scorecard component of each section. "Blanchard's Dream" for each step in the process is explained over several pages with principles and examples. The Yum! Brands implementation is also explained over several pages. The scorecard gives Yum! Brands a score out of 10 with no more than a page of explanation, mostly only a paragraph. The implementation seems to focus on highlights not the struggles of this process; the scorecard recognizes some of the challenges but barely touches on them. Sometimes, the struggles and challenges are where the learning occurs. A greater explanation of challenges and how they were overcome or how they could be overcome would be a beneficial tool.

The most interesting part of the book for me is the fact that almost a third focuses on the step - Treat your employees right. As in the book Raving Fans, the point is re-iterated over and over that customer service is based on recruiting, hiring, training, growing, and recognizing a work force.  Yum! Brands has a list of "founding truths" (i.e., principles, philosophy). The first reads "People Capability First ... satisfied customers and profitability follow." So often, managers and leaders focus on external results, forgetting that is the internal processes that lead to those results - good and bad.

The book was written in 2004. As such, the company specifics may be dated, but the principles are not. A quick browse of the Yum! Brand website still reveals its focus on its Yum! Dynasty model and its "recognition culture" - cultural models explained in this book. The specifics may have changed, but the key components of their customer mania philosophy as found in this book remain vital and viable even today.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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