Do you need a matrix to be customer focused?
All commercial organizations aspire to be customer focused, but traditionally the customer focused people such as sales and customer service staff were located in the field, in remote offices or call centers – often far from the centre of power.
In a traditional siloed organization the customer can feel very remote and salespeople often find that it is easier to deal with external customers than to overcome their own internal organizational barriers to getting things done.
The voice of the customer is a great connector across the silos, done well it enables us to keep our focus on value creation and mobilizes everyone towards a common goal across functions, geography and other business entities.
We run a matrix simulation in our training that is based around delivering a red car to a customer. It’s common, and hilarious, to see people focused on their internal functional goals trying to persuade the customer they want a green truck instead – because it’s easier to deliver.
To really mobilize for customers across our businesses we need, if not a matrix structure, then a strongly matrixed, horizontal and cross functional way of working.
Without embedding this in our practices we will always be bumping up against the old vertical silos when value creation for customers is inherently horizontal and cross-functional.
How do you mobilize across functions to serve customers?
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