A Fresh Look at Operational Entanglement - business blog by Michael Synk

Not too long ago, one of the buzz phrases in the business world was “operational entanglement.” The term described the practice of creating a high value for your customers as you served them. Their successes would be so dependent on you that they would never think about leaving you. It would be painful to switch to another provider.

If you could accomplish the above, you and your customer would be an example of operational entanglement.

I learned the idea a while back from the customer relationship management expert, Don Peppers, who wrote a seminal book on this titled The One to One Future. I recommend this book. Get it, read it, and figure out how to do it.

I’ve been a fan of the book for a while now. Several years ago, it inspired me to write my own book. It, along with an experience at a seminar with one of my fellow attendees, led to The Cheers Model of Marketing: How to Create Customers as Loyal as Norm Peterson. More on that later.

Then, a good thing became something else.

Unfortunately, as far as operational entanglement, many people took the term to mean that you wanted to make it hard, maybe even painfully hard, to disengage from buying from you. The emphasis changed from making your customer’s success an essential part of your service. Instead of never wanting to leave, some took it to mean locking customers into your company so that it would be difficult to leave. Make it so they couldn’t leave, or try to make it feel that way. Services would be interwoven into the way of conducting business, whether high value was being delivered or not.

Think about the pain of switching banks. The same thought can be applied to cellphone plans, internet service, etc. These are good examples of painful operational entanglements. I’m sure each of you reading this can add additional industry specific examples.

I encourage you to go back to the original intent of the term.

Create great customer experiences. Make your service so great,, that it creates such success for your customer and delivers such value, that going elsewhere wouldn’t even be a consideration.

The inspirational experience mentioned earlier? My friend, who will go nameless, drove into New York City from our seminar to eat at his long time favorite restaurant. He hadn’t visited in a number of years. When he walked in the door, the bartender shouted out his name, brought him his favorite style Manhattan, and ordered his favorite steak. It was all from memory without even asking him. How’s that for delivering value and anticipating needs? No wonder he drove two hours to have dinner there. I said to myself, that’s just like on Cheers when Norm walks through the door of the bar. The very next day, I started writing my first book.