English articles, Top Tasks

Can you suffer from an overdose of business goals?

Clear links between business goals and customer tasks are a prerequisite of any successful online presence. No organisation whatsoever can survive without a sensible balance between business goals and customer tasks. An overdose of business goals (shareholder goals, manager goals, more like it) and a huge lack of customer service and trust were two of the ingredients of the banking crisis.

KBC, one of the largest Belgian banks, has paid off the last slice of the billions of euros the bank received in public salvage money during the banking crisis of 2008-09. The bank has shrunk considerably, has now only 60% of its pre-crisis size with much less international activity, much more back to what their core was in the 20th century.

“We have learned our lesson,” the new CEO says. KBC now says to work again for long term value and for customer service and trust. No short term profit schemes any more, no stock exchange value creation any more. They seem to mean it, they succeeded anyhow to repay their state support. Many publicly saved banks still are on the subsidy infusion.

Organisations and their online presence need a good balance between their business goals and their customers’ s tasks. Many websites show an overdose of organisation, an overdose of business goals, often wrapped in marketing babble. In too many banks, the customer was the mere instrument to reach the next short term shareholders’ goal. The customer was an element on a performance dashboard and had to be lured into dodgy investment schemes, misleading small print and an illusion of trust. Through all channels, not only online.

Unfortunately, many banks still think and behave like that.

In online, customers are more in control. They won’t let themselves being pushed in schemes as easily. If they can’t complete their task easily, trustfully, usefully, they will look for an alternative. Brands loose loyalty. Marketing messages are ignored. The customer’s task is central.

Organisations that take care of the customer task and the business goal at the same time (and preferably in the same web page or app) will see their business as well as customer loyalty and trust grow. No marketing – dodgy or not – can beat that.

KBC website – still a classic web presence, some balancing work to do there.
This Norwegian bank Sparebanken Sogn og Fjordane drastically focused its online presence on customer tasks with soaring results on its business goals.


About Toon Lowette

Customer is not king on the internet, he is dictator. Online services are successful if they allow the customer to do what he came for efficiently and without confusion. Toon Lowette is online publishing consultant in the Customer Carewords network of Gerry McGovern. Task management is the central issue. We teach websites to manage the task, not the content, not the technology. We teach websites to become relentlessly customer centric.


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