Customer and process: Balancing the organisation


When running a business division or even an entire company, there is constant friction between being customer focused and being process-focused.  It’s a constructive friction that often swings like a pendulum strongly in one direction or another, due to changes in customer expectations and end-market conditions.

Yet industrial gas companies must balance both to successfully serving any end market. This article will discuss the attributes and value of being customer vs process-focused and recommend some best practices to consider when trying to balance both approaches. Let us first define a few terms:

  • Customer focus is a way of doing business that puts customers first, making it a priority to provide an exceptional customer experience at every stage of the customer journey. It builds customer satisfaction and loyalty, which leads to increased profits and competitive advantage. Truly customer-focused organisations identify their most valuable customers and ensure their satisfaction.
  • Process focus is when processes are consciously used to achieve business results, or in other words, when leadership leverages processes as a strategy to drive business outcomes. Beyond improving efficiency and potentially lowering a company’s cost to serve, it also creates a more engaged and involved workforce, as employees are able to utilise their problem-solving expertise and improvement tools to improve their processes to meet customer requirements.

Let’s be clear, whether your company is customer or process-focused, customers must be considered extremely important or you will not be in business very long! However, the strategy and tactics that a company uses to attract, serve and retain customers will leverage aspects of both approaches. So, maybe a more accurate term may be customer or process ‘leaning’. Nonetheless, let’s go a bit deeper into exploring the history and attributes of each approach, and then discuss how we can balance them for company success.

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