Texas Instruments Takes a Walk
At Texas Instruments (TI) marketing and sales strategies have always been product-centric. But amidst increasing financial pressures and reports of customer frustration, the $8.2 billion global semiconductor company sought to implement new initiatives to attract and retain customers.
"We were clearly dissatisfied with business results," says Jeffrey McCreary, senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at TI. "If we improved our focus on the customer, we'd improve results."
TI called on BTS USA to craft a program that would jolt TI managers into developing a more customer-conscientious mind-set--and as a result spur sales. BTS created the Customer Loyalty Bootcamp program, a series of simulations that would allow TI managers to fully experience what it is like to be a TI customer.
The Customer Loyalty Bootcamp program comprises three elements: focusing more on time-execution and allocating more time to customers; metrics that reflect customer satisfaction (including discussion and feedback sessions and short videos of TI customers relaying unsatisfactory experiences with TI); and special programs that collectively institute a culture change in TI business strategies.
The simulation itself, says Dan Parisi, senior vice president of BTS USA, "is a dynamic and realistic replica of a TI customer, with all of a typical customer's technical challenges and resource scarcity." The simulated customer, Streavo, is relying on its interestingly named supplier Terrific Instruments to efficiently meet its cost, time, and performance standards to allow Streavo to enter the market with its own products.
"Execs were broken up into teams and through business simulations they experienced challenges we give our customers every day," McCreary says. After the multiday workshops team members talked about their experiences and heard feedback on their strategies and the results of their business decisions. The exercise simulated a span of three years over an actual two and a half day period; five teams of five managers each acted as Streavo employees trying to juggle optimizing trade-offs with severe engineering problems. In simulated Year 1, for example, the chip supplier failed Streavo in such areas as missed chip speed, functionality, performance, and delivery. "They were surprised, angry, frustrated--just how we wanted them to feel," Parisi says, "because that's how many TI real-life customers were feeling at the time."
The combination of the simulation and the videos of actual dissatisfied customers helped motivate TI employees to elevate their performance levels, according to McCreary. Bootcamp participants took steps to fully embodying customer centricity by making such written commitments as spending more time with customers and formulating more practical schedules.
"We reinvigorated the time and attention to on-time delivery. We started a formal customer satisfaction survey," McCreary says. "Many business units initiated metrics that measured customer visits. We also maniacally focused on improving our new product release dates."
With such initial success at the senior level, the initiative spread to 1,600 TI managers throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. "We engaged many more from within the factory," McCreary says. "Every business leader went through it, from manufacturing leaders to finance execs."
According to Michael Hames, senior vice president of the company, it is difficult to get employees to truly feel the pain customers experienced "during our missteps," but anyone going through this training would likely modify their decisions about how to interact with customers.
The strategy worked. TI is in its third consecutive year of market share gains since implementing the program in 2002.
By implementing Customer Loyalty Bootcamp, TI
is moving toward its third straight year of market gains;
improved new product release dates;
has a better understanding of its customers' needs.