Every major sports venue has a prominent scoreboard so that fans and participants alike can easily review the score with a glance to the outfield or upward at the jumbotron. Knowing the score is a critical element in decision-making. No point in running the ball up the gut in football when you are behind by 3 touchdowns with five minutes left in the game.
Imagine trying to coach the game, however, by looking at the scoreboard instead of watching the action on the field. Ever notice what is happening with the coaches on the sidelines during the game? Doesn’t really matter what sport. The coaches are riveted to the action on the field or on the court, right? They may glance at the scoreboard occasionally, but most of their attention is directed onto the field of play. So that they can make adjustments during the game to accentuate what is working and compensate for what is not.
Why is it, then, that commercial service contractors so often obsess over the accounting systems that measure the score while completely ignoring the customer service systems that provide real-time feedback regarding the action on the field of play? Keeping score is not the same as winning. Winning means that everyone is executing the plays for the business to the best of their ability and in the interest of great customer outcomes. Accounting systems and accountants have almost zero impact on the game, and yet they are often placed at the very center of decisions regarding how to execute a winning game plan. That’s like asking the statistician to draw up the winning play on fourth and long with the game on the line instead of entrusting it to the offensive coordinator. The score at any time in the game matters, but it is a small element in a winning coaching strategy.
To be fair, customer relationship management systems, electronic commerce, and customer service applications (along with marketing automation) are newer applications on the market relative to the older and more established accounting and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. It is worth noting, also, that these newer applications focused on sales and customer service are the fastest growing breed of applications on the market. It makes sense. If you are going to compete in today’s fast-paced and online markets, you have to observe and measure what is happening on the field – play by play – instead of just waiting for the score to be tallied. How are the salespeople performing on their calls and quotes? How are the technicians performing identifying opportunities for repair? How are the customers grading your customer service via online reviews? How often is the service level agreement being met or exceeded? None of these items register in the accounting system, but all of them will have a profound influence on your ability to win the game.
There is nothing wrong with glancing at the scoreboard a few times every quarter to tweak the playbook. Winning consistently, however, means a relentless focus on the play by play action in the field while making constant adjustments. Keeping score is not the same as winning. Remember this maxim when you prioritize how you invest in applications for running your business.