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Drive up customer outcomes. Meet James Dodkins at the Club.

I caught up with James Dodkins and he was happy to answer a few questions. James is a consultant and thought-leader in customer experience and process improvement. His clients are well-known international brands. James co-created the customer-centric process improvement framework called CEMMethod and is the author of Foundations for Customer Centricity. He recently founded a private online community called Compass Business Club.

We've seen several process design methods like BPR, BPI, QuickHits, and Lean. What's new or different in your book, "Foundations for Customer Centricity”?

Great question Pradeep, every method that has ever been invented has been built on top of our current org chart. This causes chaos, especially in a service organisation because this org chart originally came out of the work done By Adam Smith in the Scottish Pin Factory. We treat it as if there is no other way to organise ourselves. In the book I outline a radical new method of org structure that promotes and rewards customer centric behaviour.

Is finding an automation opportunity (software application, for example) a systematically-done task in process design projects? Or is it typically a separate project? What are your views?

Automation is an interesting tool but that’s all it is, a tool. Some people believe that the route to better business is through automation so they take what they are doing and automate as much as they can. Sounds good right? Well, when you take into account that most stuff that companies are doing in the 21st century is wrong all you are really achieving is getting faster at doing the wrong stuff. If your process is a mess and you automate it you just get a fast mess. Automation is a great tool as long as the processes and experiences have been designed and aligned to deliver customer success. So I would say do it separately, get your ship in order first then automate away.

If customer experience design is different from business process design, what are the top 3 differentiators?

The thing is they aren’t different, it’s just people's interpretation of what they are that is different. All of the internal process comes from your customer experience so to treat them separately is crazy in the 21st century. You kind of need to think of it like a duck in a pond. The cute and fluffy part of the duck above the water that you can see is the customer experience, the legs under the surface driving everything is the business process and the pond is your culture. They all need to be interconnected. No point making the duck look prettier if the legs are going to just steer it through muddy waters again, no point making the legs more effective and efficient if you have know idea what direction the top of the duck is facing and no point doing any of it if the pond has poisoned water in it.

Process design methods notoriously ignore the role of technology. With the business world getting increasingly digital, what changes would you suggest to keep the BP discipline useful?

There seems to be this trend of people either totally ignoring technology or only focusing on technology. Technology is just today's version of pen and paper and it should be as simple. Again, first you need to get your process and experience designed and aligned towards delivering customer success before technology gets involved. The only reason technology exists is to help us serve our customer better and should be treated that way. The customer experience should always dictate the technology and never be dictated by it.

Customer experience is determined or impacted by human thought-processes and behaviors that are complex and subjective. How do you use science to "normalize" it and make it reliable across dozens (or depending on business, even millions) of customers?

We need to focus on categorising customers by need rather than segmenting them by circumstance. We have evolved so much and all have very specific and distinct personalities so trying to treat all 21-30 year-olds the same (for example) just does’t cut it any more. We need to move away from process standardisation and towards experience personalisation. Categorising by need means you will have a whole mixed bag of ages, geographic locations, salaries and all of the typical segmentation criteria in the same category but you know they all have the same needs and can laser-focus your proposition to deliver it to them. Sending the same message to everyone communicates effectively to no one.

What are customer outcomes? How do you position customer outcomes in the context of business outcomes that the organization is already targeting? Can you give an example?

Technically a truly customer centric business outcome would be to deliver successful customer outcomes. The profits aren’t the goal, the profits are the reward, the goal is to serve your customers to the best of you ability. A customer outcome is a step higher than an output. For example, an output might be a car, while the outcome might be ‘Joy.’ Hopefully you would be trying to only deliver Successful Customer Outcomes (SCO) and making sure that everything you do is aligned towards the delivery of those things.

What initiative or project is keeping you busy right now?

I’m currently CEO of Compass Business Club, an online community for process improvement, customer experience, customer centricity and business transformation professionals designed to help the entire industry progress. With news, videos, training, webinars, a panel of the world's top thought-leaders sharing unique content and private forums, Compass Business Club is shaping up to be the go-to-place for people serious about advancement in our industry. Visit for more information.


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