Our Thoughts

TLF Book Club - Moments of Truth

7th April 2017

We’re reading: Moments of Truth by Jan Carlzon.

This is a book about increasing corporate success through a mixture of customer-focused strategies and decentralization of boardroom power.

The book got a good reception from the club despite its egocentric tone. In his semi-biographical account of the events that shaped his time at SAS, Carlzon reflects on his decision to eschew the traditional CEO-style management of a company and hand out power to the “service-providing” side of the business. But he qualifies this throughout; this power to act in the customer’s interest is only really valid when a “moment of truth” presents itself.

“Moments of truth” rest on the concept of the flattened pyramid. By allowing service-providers (lower rungs) to enhance the customer experience, they are doing more for the company than any top-down instruction (top boss dogs).

There is a distinct middle-manager vacuum and Carlzon doesn’t really explain how SAS incorporated them apart from “promoting moments of truth”. This was a flawed argument from the outset and something that needed a lot more clarification.

A customer-driven philosophy is a two part concept; fine-tuning the customer’s needs and spending money wisely. Ford and General Motors, although automobile companies, actually specialize in providing people with cars to get them from A to B. What Carlzon is saying here is to make your customer’s priorities your own. The second point is a fairly logical next step, by spending money on the things that matter to your customers you maximize their satisfaction.

At this point, he throws in an anecdote about mothballing the Airbus. The Airbus at the time was a huge advancement in the airline industry, but they were put aside for aircrafts more suited to the target customer, the frequent business traveler.

How helpful were the teachings for TLF? Well, we considered a few scenarios in which Researchers could act on their intuition and provide good service for the client. We could all identify with following a common purpose centered on customer satisfaction and that can only be beneficial to the client. There are times when going the extra mile is key to forming lasting business relationships. As a younger reader, the ideas didn’t seem as bold or “Brave New World” as they might have done at the time but understanding customer’s needs is at the heart of what we do and in his own comically conceited way he makes this point.

Scores this time were:

Enjoyable: 6.6

Useful: 7.3

Written by Ben Coe

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