Gap Analysis: Intersect Investments
There is a growing indication that the model of customer intimacy is providing competitive advantage to companies who are implementing it over those who do not. For example Rick Bellerjeau, Director of Strategic Alliances for Datatec Systems said (Cisco Newsroom, 2001), “Our customer intimacy model moved us not only into new markets, it has taught us how to relate to customers so as to gain maximum share of that customer’s business, and also to gain higher margins as a result of customer intimacy-based value add selling strategy.” Customer intimacy is the combination of becoming a trusted advisor, providing exceptional services and providing service that add value to the customer. Customer intimacy is the largest source of your growth, sustainable competitive advantage, and profit. Everyone in your organization should practice it (Kotelnicov, 2007).
Intersect Investments has just barely survive the volatile climate which has caused many financial firms to struggle to keep their clients trust and Wall Street’s credibility. Recently Intersect CEO, Frank Jeffers has announced a new vision to go into a customer intimacy model. He believes this is the key to the growing problems imposed by the market pressures of customers which grow ever more demanding. This moved is targeted to develop new brand image which will eventually gain Wall Street’s trust. Frank believes that this is not an easy transformation but will even involve revolutionary organizational change.
Issue and Opportunity Identification
Intersect Investment are facing one major issue, the need to completely implement a customer intimacy model that will build long-term relationships based on trust and value to the customer in order to develop a new brand image that will gain Wall Street’s trust. The company is already showing some initial indications that they are having problems with regards to customer satisfaction as it has already been down by 5% for the last 5 years. In addition to this, the revolutionary organizational change that Frank is implementing has already led to the replacement of the Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales. Behind this issue is the opportunity for growth if the transformation towards customer intimacy becomes successful. To support this idea, benchmarking studies done on telecommunications industries have so far shown that companies who are implementing a customer intimacy model grow faster than those who don’t implement this strategy.
The company is not just faced by this major issue but there is an increasing employee turnover in the sales department partly as a consequence to the customer intimacy model transformation. Some of their employees are confused by this transformation and are having doubts regarding the ability of their leaders to make this transformation successful. A recent study by Thomas Hardy, the Senior Vice President of Human Resource has indicated that there is a 25% employee turnover in sales as oppose to 7% company wide. The company must also correct this issue if they are to implement the customer intimacy model. The high employee turnover in the sales department is proportional to the losses incurred due to lack of experience of the new sales employee and the need to train them in the sales process.
Stakeholder Perspectives/Ethical Dilemmas
There are a number of perspective and ethical dilemmas between the major stakeholders. The CEO, Frank Jeffers is inclined to remove those employees who do not support the customer intimacy model transformation. This is because he wants to make the transformation successful and in the shortest possible time. On the other hand, Jane Angelo, the new Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales is more into a different approach where in he needs to develop strategies to convince those who are opposing the customer intimacy model.
Another case is the differing perspective between Lyn Chen, the Vice President of Sales and Joel Contino, the Vice President of Marketing. Lyn Chen who was person molded by the present sales and marketing model because of her 20 years experience at intersect still believes in the current model as an effective sales and marketing strategy. Lyn believes that the customer intimacy model works only on IT and telecommunications infrastructures but not on a financial firm. On the other hand Joel, who just recently joined the company, believes otherwise. Joel who was already exposed in the IT department on the effectiveness of the customer intimacy model is one of the strong advocates of the model of customer intimacy. Joel believes that the current model is more of a like a hit and run strategy which does not work on the long run.
Also there is still a sense of distrust from Annie Sorrento, the Director of Sales Operation, regarding the promising words provided by Janet Angelo. She does not completely trust the words of Janet that she is here to find what are the things that needs to be done and not to blame on what have been done in the past. This distrust can become a barrier for effective communication. There are eight personal barriers that commonly influence communication: (1) the ability to effectively communicate, (2) the way people process and interpret information, (3) the level of interpersonal trust between people, (4) the existence of stereotypes and prejudices, (5) the egos of the people communicating, (6) the ability to listen, (7) the natural tendency to evaluate or judge a sender’s message, and (8) the inability to listen with understanding. Physical barriers pertain to distance, physical objects, time, and work and office noise. Semantic barriers show up as encoding and decoding errors because these phases of communication involve transmitting and receiving words and symbols (Kinicki ; Kreitner, 2007).
These dilemmas could be antecedent to conflicts. Among the many antecedents of conflict are incompatible personalities or value systems; competition for limited resources; inadequate communication; unreasonable or unclear policies, standards, or rules; unreasonable deadlines or extreme time pressure; collective decision making; unmet expectations; and unresolved or suppressed conflicts (Kinicki ; Kreitner, 2007). If this lead to conflicts that are not handled properly and could further result to dysfunctional conflicts.
The customer intimacy model will be realized in the future, and would bring enormous growth to the overall revenue of the company. The Intersect Investments will gain the status of a trusted advisor and will provide competitive advantage to customer as opposed to the service provided by competitors. This model will build a valuable differentiator against the competitors in the financial firm arena. As technologies mature and become “commoditized”, a reputation of superior service has proven to be a valuable differentiator in the high-tech industry (WebMethods, 2004). A differentiator that would put some levels of control on the long run marginal revenues brought about by competition. The success of customer intimacy model through close relationship with customers can be the source of new business. Customers define business need therefore this not only provides a immediate view of the growing customer demands but also allows the company to blend with what the majority of the customers would want in the future. The continuing credibility that it will bring to Wall Street would insure the perpetuity of investors and hence the growth of Intersect Investments. The customer satisfaction will also increase or maintain in the saturated level.
The company is far from the complete implementation of the customer intimacy model. As metrics of this gap, we can look at the high employee turnover in the sales department. An effective customer intimacy model builds intimate long term relationship between the service provided by sales and the customer. This indirectly means that employees should also stay in order for the long term relationship to exist. Another indication of this gap is the decreasing customer satisfaction over the last five years. The proper implementation of this model suggests that Intersect provides value added and exceptional service customer to gain trust and not buildup dissatisfaction. There are also employees that are not supportive of the customer intimacy model like Lyn Chen because of their experience in the success of the current model.
In order to reduce employee turnover, the leaders of Intersect Investments should be able to explain and show to its people the importance and the feasibility of this transformation to a new vision model. To gain customer satisfaction, Intersect Investment should be able to communicate the new vision of trusted advisor, creating value and customer intimacy. This should be included in all advertising efforts. The entire team should be able to support each roll out to make the new brand a reality. For employees who are not supportive of the customer intimacy model, the leaders should be able to convince through empirical and qualitative data that this approach is the right way.
The need for the company to adapt the new vision of customer intimacy model is important for the survival of Intersect Investments. Intersect Investments should be able to achieve the end goals of being a trusted advisor, create customer value added service and customer intimacy relations. This is necessary to gain advantage over their competitors. Gap analysis suggests that there is still a wide gap between the end goal and the present situation. Intersect Investments needs to increase communication to its employee and its customer regarding these new visions of customer intimacy model. The focus is to build up customer relations that bring trust and smooth coordination between needs and service. The Intersect Investment as a company should also be working in the same direction in order for the transformation effort to be successful.
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