Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Customer Emotion Dashboard

The job of a CIO is filled with challenges.   There's a delicate balance in constant flux among:

*Short term urgencies  
*Long term strategies
*Ever changing compliance/regulatory requirements
*Day to day operations

What's the right objective measure of success?

On time, on budget project performance?
Positive feedback from your Governance groups?

All of these can look rosy but customers can still be unhappy.   The juggling of IT supply and customer demand means than not all projects can be done.   The complexity of IT work means that projects will take longer than customers expect.   All communications plans, no matter how comprehensive will still miss some stakeholders.    The end result of all of this is customer dissatisfaction.

A CIO can never achieve 100% customer satisfaction.   In fact, if only 10% of my customers dislike me on a given day, then I've achieved a stellar approval rating.

By human nature, we want to make everyone happy and avoid conflict.  When I lecture about my top 10 leadership principles for surviving as a CIO:

10. Select your change and what not to change
9. Identify those who will lose
8. Acknowledge their loss
7. Over Communicate
6. Be Honest and Consistent
5. Consensus is not essential
4. Embrace conflict
3. Focus on your detractors
2. The last two minutes of the meeting are the most important
1. You cannot please everyone

#1 is that you cannot please everyone.   There will never be enough budget, enough staff, or enough governance to ensure everything is perfect.

Normally, the naysaying can be addressed through focused customer service, planning, and conversation.

However, it's getting harder now that the economy is challenging and expectations of technology support are escalating i.e. "I just bought a new smartphone yesterday, how come you do not provide application support for it?'

The level of tension in every sector is increasing.   Civility is diminishing.

This means that I must carefully monitor the pulse of all my customers.

I've emailed my staff that at our next leadership meeting, I'd like to develop a new type of scorecard for each major stakeholder group.   I will empower my staff to rate the emotional trajectory of each group as red/yellow/green.  With such a scorecard, I'll be able to anticipate growing discontent before it escalates and then focus my time and energy on detractors, embracing conflict to proactively change strategy and tactics before it's too late to change.

A customer dashboard based on the trajectory of stakeholder emotion rather than budgets, projects and timelines - I have a feeling that it will be very effective in directing my management focus, especially in trying times.

I'll let you know how it works by the end of 2010.


Akshay Kapur said...

I do this regularly for meetings with a regular group to gauge their emotional variance based on content, delivery, day, time of day, number of people, and so on.

It clearly provides an indication when things are going wrong, how the group dynamic is changing, and most importantly, if people are feeling bored or challenged.

I really like the simplicity of red/blue/green. I will start using that as a summary for emotional status.

Tomcat said...

As a corollary to "Civility is diminishing", do you remember anyone in an argument, technical or otherwise, ever saying something along the lines of, "Y'know, you make a good point, and you've convinced me to change my position"?

Tom Jordan said...

As the manager for customer service at a major NYC academic medical center, I implemented a survey that we sent customers as every help desk call or service request was closed. We asked our customers to rate us on professionalism, technical knowledge, follow up, etc.

It allowed me to identify issues before they escalated. It also provided proof that the large majority of users were very pleased with the service they received from IT.

I think it's a great idea to try and measure the customers' temperature at a group or departmental level. I'm curious as to whether you will rely on your staff's feelings or you will use some type of survey or another method to measure satisfaction.

Caston Thomas @ Voalté said...

Absolutely outstanding idea!

To help your team prepare your scorecard, I highly recommend you give them each a copy of "If Disney Ran your Hospital". When I read it the first time, it transformed how I viewed our attention to the patient experience. There were points in this book that brought up a great deal of emotion. I never expected responding to a "business book" in such a manner. Fred Lee writes in an inspiring, insightful, and challenging way.

I don't want this to sound like a commercial (and you have my permission to edit this out), but my CEO points out that "there isn't a Disney, Southwest Airlines, or Starbucks in healthcare IT and we're going to set our bar at that level." We're doing a number of things that radically alter the expectations for our "customer experience". Many of these have at their root the concepts taught in the Disney method. One example, we've embraced the philosophy of "It's not be our fault, but it's certainly our problem!" There's wisdom in that statement. Why? Because I think it promotes that sense of civility that we've seemed to be losing in our society.

Thanks for an excellent customer focused blog. Great topic! :)

Anonymous said...

This is your best blog post ever. You can't do everything. The dashboard is an idea I plan to borrow.

I love your list, but I would argue that "over-communicate" is not the right concept. It may feel like over-communication but what you really need is effective communication. It is possible to spam people with to much repetition or information that is not targeted.

Jeff (no, the other one) said...

I'd 2nd the over-communication comment.

Our Emotional Weather Report dashboard (hat tip to Tom Waits) might have weather symbols instead.

By my count, we were doing 11 out of the 13 no-no pitfalls of strategic planning a year ago; I think we've managed to trim that to 8 or 9 now.