As we mentioned in the previous post, Cincom has built a stellar reputation for customer success based on three key foundations:
- The Total Customer Experience – Customer centricity is the core fabric of Cincom, and it permeates in all aspects of our business—from people and processes to technology.
- Transparency – Our relationship with customers is that of a valued partner. We believe in total transparency of all pertinent information in an effort to build a remarkable solution that exceeds customer needs on all fronts.
- Transformation – In our quest for “Simplification Through Innovation®,” we routinely challenge ourselves for better ways of doing things and to deliver a transformational value proposition.
The first post, Thank You to Our Customers, captured the essence of the “Total Customer Experience.” In this post, we will discuss “transparency” and why it’s so critical to any organization’s sustained performance. My definition of transparency is being totally transparent with all aspects of our business, and there is no fabrication in terms of who we are, what we stand for and how we make money. Thus, transparency is really a fusion of five qualities: ethics, trustworthiness, openness, communication and accountability.
- Ethics – We have to be right and fair with our conduct. There can be no compromises to our values under any circumstances.
- Trustworthiness – We have to be honest and reliable in all customer interactions. We earn trust by genuinely helping customers with their toughest problems.
- Openness – We have to be open and accessible to our customers. We make it easy for our customers to contact us on their terms—anytime, anywhere and anyhow.
- Communication – Be proactive and share relevant information (good as well as bad) early and often. There can be no bad surprises for our customers—ever!
- Accountability – We have to be accountable and responsible for all of our actions. We routinely over-deliver to our customers on all fronts.
The above qualities of transparency permeate in all aspects of our business from people and processes to technology solutions. The majority of our customers are complex enterprises that deal with a very high level of complexity in their operational environments. Without a strong culture of transparency, we would be adding more complexity to our customers’ lives, which would not be a good thing. Thus, transparency is a key foundational element that we must execute for the “Total Customer Experience” and our ability to deliver 97% support satisfaction.
So how do companies execute on the culture of transparency? Let’s take Eli Lilly and Company as an example. Lilly strives to be a leading voice and role model in transparency efforts in the biopharmaceutical industry. Lilly strongly believes that transparency is critical to rebuilding trust in their industry and their ability to execute on their mission to make medicines that help people live longer, healthier, more active lives. In 2004, Lilly was the first company to establish an online database of clinical-trial results, and in 2007, they were the first company to establish a public registry of their grants and charitable contributions. Again, in 2009, they became the first company to report their payments to physicians for speaking and advising services.
All of the qualities of transparency discussed above are critical; however, ethics may have the deepest impact on shareholder value creation. The impact is so great that one can claim that ethical organizations are transparent organizations and vice-versa. ETHISPHERE compiles an annual listing of the World’s Most Ethical (WME) companies. The WME designation is awarded to those companies that have leading ethics and compliance programs, particularly as compared to their industry peers. Below is a partial list of ETHISPHERE 2011 World’s Most Ethical companies based on target industries that are of interest to us. You can find the complete list here.
- Indra Sistemas
- The Aerospace Corporation
- Adobe Systems
- Symantec Corporation
- Teradata Corporation
- General Electric Co.
Electronics and Semiconductors
- Freescale Semiconductor
- Premier Farnell
Engineering and Design
- AECOM Technology Corporation
- CH2M Hill
- Fluor Corporation
- Deere & Company
- Eaton Corporation
- Milliken & Company
- Schneider Electric
- Becton Dickinson
- Royal Philips
- Avaya Inc.
- Cisco Systems
- Juniper Networks
Transportation and Logistics
- AutoridaddelCanal de Panama
- East Japan Railway Company
- NipponYusen Kabushi Kaisha
As we review the WME company list, we see several of our favorite brands like AMEX, General Mills, PepsiCo, Whole Food, Marriott, Starbucks, Target and UPS. One of the primary reasons we remain loyal to these companies and brands is because of the transparency of their products, services and experiences. There are no gimmicks or pretending to be something they are not. I am a bit surprised to not see Apple on this list, and maybe it is because of their top-secrecy with respect to new product development, design and supply-chain execution. However, as part of Apple’s newly launched Supplier Responsibility initiative, they are driving a range of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities across their worldwide supply chain. For example, they unveiled the names of 156 companies that represent 97% of their global supply chain, performing a thorough supplier audit in the areas of Labor and Human Rights, Worker Health and Safety, Environmental Impact, Ethics, Management Systems and Worker Education and Development. It is an unusual move for Apple, underscoring that new CEO, Tim Cook, has ushered in an era of greater transparency. So it’s just a matter of time before Apple is inducted onto this list.
The very foundation of the Internet industry is built on transparency, so I was surprised that only Zappos made the list. Why Amazon, BlueNile and scores of other companies like Costco and Staples did not make the list is up for debate. Within the computer-software industry, the big familiar names within enterprise software, such as Oracle and SAP, did not make the cut. I think Cincom should be on this list along with other great companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, Symantec and Teradata. What Cincom has in common with these great companies is its deep passion for customer value creation and satisfaction.
According to ETHISPHERE, it pays to be ethical, and ethical companies on average generate shareholder returns four times that of S&P 500 returns (see the chart below).
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Thus, the business case for transparency is right in front of our eyes. In this dynamic, ever-complex and hyper-competitive world, the organizations that are built on transparency as a core foundation have unfair competitive advantage. As Simon Sinek showed us in his inspirational video at TED, “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Unless transparency is weaved in as a core fabric of your organization, your customers will be challenged to understand both the “what” and the “why” of your purpose.
At Cincom, we make complex simple. We help our customers with the toughest and most complex problems within enterprise resource planning and execution. We have learned that our success is largely dependent on the success of our customers by delivering exceptional value to them on a consistent basis. Transparency helps us stay grounded and focused on things that really matter.
Are you committed to making “transparency” a top strategic goal for your organization in 2012?