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In the age of agility when everything has to be done faster, when efficiency sits on a pedestal lauded by all, have you ever considered whether you’re too efficient? Or even more importantly, whether you’re the wrong kind of efficient?

Efficiency is one of those table stake issues that we just accept we have to be. We focus on driving efficiency through our businesses in the form of increasing automation, decreasing errors, minimising expensive support costs, maximising sales opportunities and so on.

But the sad truth is that efficiency can become a double-edged sword. It can become a poor cousin substitute for what is really required: effectiveness.

MVNOs often tell me they’re efficient. But when I dig beneath their assertions I discover that this efficiency is internally driven, inside-out thinking. For example:

  • they have incentivised their sales teams to sell more, so they’re selling more
  • they have targeted their back office teams to process more order tickets and clear up faults faster
  • they are measuring how fast service teams can deal with customers, and how many customers they can handle.

They have carefully selected metrics to measure their operational and commercial efficiency. They even measure their customers’ satisfaction with them. But very often, and even as they pat themselves on the back for hitting or exceeding the targets they gave themselves, they fail to see things from the customer perspective.

MVNOs you should be laser focused on your customers. Instead of being focused on them though, you are over-focused on yourselves.

This means customers are sold things you want to sell them – whether or not it’s what the customer really needs or wants. Your back office is rushing through order tickets and fault tickets but isn’t focused on accuracy or seeing the root cause or the bigger picture. Your service teams rush their interaction, focus on it as a single transaction and not a relationship, and miss opportunities as a result.

Joining up the business so it functions more holistically and reflects the customer’s needs rather than your own is part of the answer. But sometimes slowing down is the answer too. Who wants to feel that a business can’t wait to get them off the phone? A rushed ‘is there anything else I can help you with?’ simply isn’t good enough.

So stop being efficient (internally focused) – after all that’s just table stakes in the digital era. Instead, start being effective (customer focused). Effectiveness is efficiency 2.0. Combine these two and you’ll take your organisation to a new level.