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.

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