Talking Strategy with the Billion Dollar Man.... Martin Summerhayes, Fujitsu (Part Two)

Aug 13, 2014 • FeaturesManagementFujitsumanagementMartin Summerhayes

In part one of this exclusive interview we looked at Martin Summerhayes extraordinary career to date. Now in the concluding part Fujitsu's Head of Business Development talks about what drives him forward...  

Focussing on his current role again the passion for consistently delivering and improving the service he and his team deliver to their clients is undeniable when questioned on what he takes pride in and what frustrates him on a day-to-day basis.

“The thing that makes me go home smiling at the end of the day is delivering great service to customers, and what makes me tear my hair out is the politics that you have in any organisation big or small” he comments before adding “what can make me really frustrated is speed, the inability of people and organisations to change when markets and situations change”

It is in these frustrations that another layer of what makes Summerhayes tick is perhaps revealed. Whilst he is certainly approachable, he is clearly exceptionally quick when it comes to assessing and understanding the markets he operates in and comes across as a man that perhaps has to sometimes wait for others to catch up to his way of thinking. This could require a great deal of patience, or result in a great deal of frustration. More than likely there is probably a healthy portion of both.

Indeed his standards are set exceptionally high. Looking at what defines exceptional service he explains “It is when you delight your customers. Not when you meet their expectations, not when you exceed their expectations, it’s when you delight them. When your customer becomes the best advocate there is for your business and services”

These are the standards that Summerhayes expects as a consumer and these are the standards that he demands his team at Fujitsu strive for also.

A key to such service excellence he explains is to make customer interaction as smooth and simple as possible.

“One thing that absolutely drives me nuts is when a company makes me as the customer deal with their own organisational complexity."

 “One thing that absolutely drives me nuts” he begins “is when a company makes me as the customer deal with their own organisational complexity. One of the things we got wrong at HP was we had three divisions at one stage, a hardware division, a software division and a warranty division. We mirrored that in the way we spoke to the customer.”


“We copied that structure right into the IDR, if it is a hardware problem press one etc… and I still see it today in companies. Are they designing from the customer experience in or from the organisational structure out?” He asks with a hint of irritation at how so many major service organisations miss the simple premise of putting the customer at the heart of the business.

“Whether it’s retail, hospitality, the medical profession, whatever we do we put our own organisational complexity in the face of our customers. Now, if you are a great company, an exceptional company, if you are there to delight your customers, you don’t do that.” He continues.

So how do we go about building our business to delight our customers? Do we need to look at our processes, our corporate culture or the technology that we use to deliver? Is it a blend of all three to get things right?

Summerhayes explains “The premise starts with thinking of the customer at the heart of everything. It starts with that. You have then got to put in place the culture, then the supporting processes and then finally the technology”

“You can’t turn around and say the technology will solve the problem. The technology is a reflection of your key business processes, your business processes are a reflection of your organisational construct, and your organisational construct drives your culture.”

Of course the importance of getting culture right first is a conversation that has been held many times before, and something we have explored in many an article on yet it remains something that many companies end up getting wrong, and when they do so they can end up in a viscous circle with software that is either out-dated or worse that was never fit for purpose in the first place.

“Lets go right the way back to the point here” Summerhayes states “your engineer, the way he talks, the way he acts, the way he delivers the service is all a reflection of the culture of the organisation, the business processes that he has to follow and then the IT that enables him to do his job.”

With the trusted advisor status that the field engineer has, and his position on the frontline being one of your most powerful points of customer contact it is of course essential that he is as well prepared to succeed as is possible. Especially given that his success will be a direct reflection on your brand both in the short and long term.

As Summerhayes concludes ”having the customer at the heart of what you are doing is key because at the end of the day it is a service industry, you are there to serve”

Given his track record I’d suggest that taking Martin Summerhayes’ advice on this and focussing your service business from a ‘customer in’ perspective is very much the right thing to do.