The Business Impact Of An Outside-In Perspective At Sprint

Sometimes a CEO takes the reins at a company that’s in such great shape, I can’t help thinking, “Wow, it must be great to be that guy!”

And then there’s Dan Hesse, CEO at Sprint. Given the shape that Sprint was in when he got the top job in 2008, I was thinking more along the lines of, “Wow, he must be working off a karmic burden!” That’s because back then, the company had the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any of the major wireless carriers. As a result, it was bleeding cash from high customer care costs and lost subscribers.

Faced with this mess, Dan decided to focus on systematically improving the quality of Sprint’s customer experience as a way of improving Sprint’s bottom line. We were so impressed by his efforts that we included a case study about Dan in Chapter 2 of our upcoming book, Outside In: The Power Of Putting Customers At The Center Of Your Business.

The book won’t be out until August 28th, but you don’t have to wait until then to get a sense of how effective Dan’s efforts have been. That’s because on May 15th, Hesse gave an address at Sprint’s shareholder meeting, and he had this news:

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Rx: Four Days Of Inspiration At The Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Summit

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of speaking at the Patient Experience Empathy And Innovation Summit. The event was sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic Office of Patient Experience, which is led by Dr. Jim Merlino, the chief experience officer at the Clinic.

To be candid, I originally agreed to give the speech as a favor to Jim, whose inspirational story kicks off the chapter on chief customer officers in our upcoming book. I didn’t know what to expect of the event and somehow imagined that when I joined hundreds of doctors, nurses, and other caregivers in a big auditorium, I’d get trapped inside an episode of House — and I’d be the only one who didn’t know what the other cast members were talking about.

Was I ever wrong. The event was an extraordinary experience from beginning to end, and the content was accessible to anyone who works to improve customer experience, regardless of industry. As someone who helps put on Forrester's Customer Experience Forum, I even got a little envious.

A few things leapt out at me from the sessions I attended:

  • Executive-level commitment to customer experience as a business strategy. Dr. Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, CEO of Cleveland Clinic, and Dr. Kurt Newman, CEO of Children’s National Medical Center, appeared together on a panel. It was clear from their answers to moderator and audience questions that both of them connect the dots between high-quality patient experience and the bottom line.
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A Killer Disease? IT’s Unhealthy Obsession With Itself

While sitting at a hotel desk at “silly o’clock” this morning preparing for the Forrester I&O Forum in Las Vegas, I saw a Tweet from Ian Aitchison of LANDesk that was an obvious but little realized truth:

“Is the IT industry unique in its obsession with its own possible future demise? The sky is always falling in. #ITRapture”

IMO the average IT organization does appear to be somewhat Chicken Little-like and my response of “I think it is because IT is obsessed with itself :)” started me off …

While we have not necessarily fallen in love with our own reflection, it is difficult to argue that we are not overly obsessed with what WE are doing rather than what the business is doing – as per yesterday’s blog  “Why Is IT Operations Like Pizza Delivery?”

Consider this exaggerated story

You meet two people at a soiree (that’s a posh cocktail party BTW). The first introduces themselves: “Hi, I’m Ian. I work for LANDesk. I do all sorts of product marketing nonsense.” The second does the same. Well, I say the same; there’s a big difference – “Hi, I’m Stephen. I work in IT.”

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Why Is IT Operations Like Pizza Delivery?

Whilst with a software vendor yesterday I reused a favorite IT service delivery analogy that was inspired by, or was it borrowed from, James Finister at least two years ago. At the Forrester I&O Forum in Las Vegas this Thursday I will use it again when Glenn O'Donnell and I present on "A Mindset Change Is Needed: Support The People, Not The Technology."

To me the analogy is indicative of the fact that despite all of the investments organizations have made in increasing IT service management maturity and IT service delivery we still seem to measure our relative success in terms of IT rather than business outcomes.

So consider this somewhat frivolous analogy: comparing IT operations to pizza delivery operations

The pizza company has a palatial store and has invested in the best catering equipment (read state-of-the-art data center). It employs highly-qualified chefs who take pride in creating culinary masterpieces. When the pizza leaves the store it scores ten out of ten on the internal measurement system. This is, however, measuring at the point of creation rather than the point of consumption.

Now consider the customer view of the pizza when it arrives: it is late, cold, has too much cheese, the wrong toppings (even toppings that are unrecognizable to the customer), and it costs more than the customer expected (and wanted) to pay.

How much of this example can be applied to IT delivery?

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Announcing Outside In, The Latest Book From Forrester And The Topic Of Our Upcoming Forum In New York

Since October, I've been heads down on a big project. We're all delighted that the project is now at a point where we can talk about it publicly.

It's Forrester's next book, titled Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. You'll be hearing a lot about it in the coming weeks, both from me and from my co-author Kerry Bodine. And if you want to see what the cover looks like, it's already online here and here.

Although the book won't be available to the general public until August 28th, attendees of our Customer Experience Forum at the end of June will get digital copies of the manuscript.  They'll also hear keynote speeches from some of the people who appear in the book, like Kevin Peters, the president of Office Depot North America; Laura Evans, chief experience officer at The Washington Post; and Laurie Tucker, senior vice president of corporate marketing at FedEx.

If you'd like to get a preview of some of the concepts in the book, check out the video below — and then stay tuned for more announcements!