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Monty Python Driving Customer Centricity

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Tim McElligottIn Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when Sir Lancelot approached the bridgekeeper guarding the Bridge of Death, he showed no fear in front of his Nights Who Say Ni. Lancelot boldly answered the questions three ere the other side the bridgekeeper would let him see.

Sir Robin and Sir Galahad were not so lucky in this version of the quest (there are many). Answering incorrectly, they were flung into the abyss. Such is the importance of questions. Perhaps we'll never need to know the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, a query which led to the death of the poor bridgekeeper himself, but questions are the precursor to all knowledge and it is as important to know how to ask them as it is to answer them.

We lowly editors can't answer many of the questions that you need answers to in order to improve your operations, but we know people all over the industry who can. So we stick to asking the questions we think are important. In keeping with another tradition of folklore long before the Holy Grail (3000 years before) we pose questions to the oracles (small "o") of communications so that you may learn the truth about what is happening in the real world.

B/OSS Publisher Danica Cullins recently started a series called Six Questions that poses the same six questions on a particular topic to several oracles of our industry, providing you with not one viewpoint, but many. The first topic is Customer Centricity.

One reason we picked the topic of Customer Centricity is because it is similar to the Holy Grail. It is an object of desire more holy to some than to others; until the day it is found and confirmed it remains mythological; to those who seek it, it is forever just beyond their reach; its powers are uncertain; and in the end those who seek it are made stronger by their quest alone – unless they are flung into the fiery abyss.

In other words, the desire to be customer-centric is one thing, the ability to execute on it is as elusive as the bejeweled chalice ... so it helps to hear from people whose company pillars are made of customer centricity.

Danica has posed questions to Tom Erskine, director of communications and media industry solutions at Pegasystems and to Hannu Savolainen, head of billing at Sonera, part of TeliaSonera.

This week, she posed her questions to Carol Borghesi, senior vice president of Telus' Customers First Culture. Borghesi shows how customer centricity is a cultural endeavor and that putting employees' performance-based bonuses at risk based on their support of it is a pretty good way to get everyone on board. But beyond the threat of intimidation, such a culture, successfully cultivated, can make a significant difference across all areas of the business. Here is how Borghesi passed the bridgekeeper's inquisition and was allowed to pass.

Next up on Six Questions in mid-January will be Mike Irizarry, president and CTO at U.S. Cellular, an interesting oracle with interesting answers to this issue. Check them all out. Enlighten yourself. If you have any questions for me, you can e-mail me at tmcelligott@vpico.com or click on the comment button below.

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