When a Vertical Business Is the Power Core

Power Core Series – 4 of 6

When a vertical business is your company’s power core, you have deep competencies in an area of business, such as hospitality, or insurance, or accounting. And you have become known in the marketplace because of this competency.

Areas of Strength

Companies with a vertical business as their power core are long practiced in their discipline. This competency has yielded a strong set of metrics to guide the operational execution, such as how to run a hotel front desk or how to execute a tax return. Real clarity exists around the execution of that competency. You continue to develop and stay abreast of the movement in the marketplace around your competency. The products, sales, and services are connected to your perspective of what customers need from you based on your long tenure of executing the discipline.

Customer Vulnerability and Hot Spots

Companies with a strong basis in a vertical business can lose sight of the customer along the way. The thing they are best at becomes the definition of the business. An understanding of customer needs is internal: the  practitioners believe that they know the business so well that they speak for customers. There’s risk in not looking externally to define the deliverables. The interactions are created by the book for the execution of the operation. However, there may not be a customer experience woven into them.

Connecting the experience across the business is likely to be less than robust. In this type of environment, each of the silos tends to look at its part of the operation as separate and distinct. Execution is therefore separate and distinct. The customer experience is the jumble that emanates from  each silo’s output.


A Kickstart for Integrating Customer Focus into the Vertical Business Power Core

1. Redefine your business to understand relevance to customers.

2. Clarify what you want to deliver and why. Gain consensus.

3. Map the experience and top ten customer interactions for delivery.

4. Begin to track and manage performance in the top ten interactions.

5. Introduce guerrilla metrics.

There’s a good first step to take here: initiate a companywide conversation to establish clarity on what you want to be to customers. Since this may or may not ever have been a discussion at an operational level, it’s important to bring together those who run the business into these decisions. Many times “who we are” is a marketing branding exercise that doesn’t cascade throughout the organization or is ignored with the hand wave: “That’s marketing’s work. We’re running the business.”

Remember learning about the demise of the railroads? Those that faded away had defined themselves as being in the railroad business. Those that moved forward thought of themselves as being in the transportation business. In order to move past the execution of your vertical business discipline, you need to recast your purpose for supporting customers. Making the operational areas part of this discussion is key to inspiring people to think about the business differently.

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