Re-engineer ‘Lead to Cash’ or listen to customers?

Organisations – particularly telecoms operators and service providers – are fond of referring to the ‘lead to cash’ process. By this, they mean all of the activities that take place within their organisation to convert sales leads into orders, deliver these orders, and collect the customer’s payment. Most of the discussions about the Lead to Cash process focus on the observation that there are some – possibly many – disconnects in the process, each of which introduce the potential for things to go wrong. It is therefore important for the organisation to identify these disconnects and to ensure that the entire end-to-end process is executed successfully and without errors, most of the time.

I am certainly not going to argue against this point of view. Clearly organisations with poorly-designed systems and processes need to get them fixed as quickly as possible. But surely what is really important is not the internal disconnects themselves, but the effect that poor ‘Lead to Cash’ processes have on customers.  That is, the consumers and companies that are ordering the products and paying the cash that keeps the organisation in business. By and large, these customers are only dimly aware that their problems, when they arise, are the result of poorly-designed internal systems and processes. What they are acutely aware of is that they can’t order what they want, or what gets delivered is not what they ordered, or they get charged for something they didn’t order and didn’t want. Or indeed, an almost infinite number of other frustrating results that occur when the ‘Lead to Cash’ process goes wrong.

Perhaps where organisations should begin when thinking about their ‘Lead to Cash’ process is not so much with the internal changes that are required, but in making sure customers get what they want and are happy to pay for it. This type of thinking should lead to questions such as “What annoys our customers most?” and “What are the main reasons why customers don’t pay the invoices we send them?”. Once the answers to questions like these are known, it ought to be relatively straightforward to fix the parts of the process that matter most to customers. And that is probably going to be a darn sight quicker, easier and cheaper than starting with a blank sheet of paper and paying a team of consultants to ‘re-engineer the end-to-end Lead to Cash process’.

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