Additional contact

The rigorous analyses in "Making Contact" (October 2012) and the description of the tools used yield an exceptional starting point. Development of the customer touch point business model (CTPBM) process maps and identification of all the customer touch points is a relevant and valuable first step.

Regarding customer contact, the article said: "A unique customer motivator may not exist for each individual touch point because some touch points might have the same underlying customer motivator. The output of the QFD (quality function deployment) in regards to the CTPBM is a ranked list of customer motivators and technical requirements."

Application of QFD would nominally involve customers as key participants, yet I did not sense they had a significant role or presence in any of the analyses described. I recommend greater customer involvement in these analyses. Share the touch points with them and ask the following questions:

  • What have we left out that might be important to you?
  • Which of these are most important to you?
  • What metrics should we use to measure our success in meeting your needs at these important touch points?

Determine which customers to involve by selecting your largest, newest, oldest, most or least vocal on past surveys, or by choosing whatever criteria make sense. But get them involved.

The article also discussed strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analyses, and possible, implement, challenge and kill (PICK) charting. The latter is essentially an exercise in establishing priorities based on "bang for the buck." I recommend the cross-functional SWOT and PICK teams include key customers.

Overall, CTPBM, QFD, SWOT analysis, PICK charting and attraction, interaction, transaction and reaction scoring all make great technical sense. Applying these tools makes for a great lean Six Sigma project, yet they might not be required at the level of effort indicated in the article.

Consider the following statement from the article: "Cameron successfully improved its customer relationships after instituting the CTPBM. CTPBM has obvious potential value for engaging customers in the VOC (voice of the customer) discussion."

Saying "QFD and SWOT analyses will shed light on which areas need the most focus" begs the question: Would greater customer participation make these analyses less burdensome?

Surveys can be useful. Having customers help develop surveys and recommend what questions to ask makes the surveys more valuable. Cameron’s indicating it no longer needs to rely on "vague and potentially misleading survey results" implies CTPBM analyses might have helped in this area.

I sense an underlying desire to apply rigorous technical methods to study customers. Rigor is fine and appropriate, but customers are not machines. Even though they might represent corporate entities, the actors are human subjects, and their behaviors are strongly influenced by emotion, as well as logic. They also like to be asked what they want.

John Adkisson
Titusville, FL

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