Changing relationships with customers through service
Services have the potential to change the relationship between businesses and their customers. However, some organisations are more adaptable and flexible in the way they organise themselves around new or better services than others. Transforming customers' experience through service design requires organisations to face up to its internal organisational strength and weaknesses and take small and decisive steps to address them.
Better customer experience requires committing to seeing things from their perspective
Designing services that meet customer expectations – that are better quality and value, is not easy because it requires an outside in perspective and involvement of the customers. This design task is no where near the (perceived) complexity of the task of realising new services within existing organisations. While management might sign off on a better customer experience, few organisations have the commitment and stamina to see it through.
Service does not start or end with frontline staff
Shop assistants, call centre agents, instructors, guides all play a pivotal role in how customers experience services and impact their view of the organisation/brand. Closer examination reveals that even when trained staff perform good service transactions, the organisation can still fail its customers.
Implementing a new service is more than setting up systems and procedures, and training staff to perform the service. The way customers approach the organisation, the channels they choose and the concerns they deal with must be considered too. These considerations have implications for many different parts of the organisation. This means that back office and supporting functions should be involved in setting up the service instead of being confronted with a change and no time to adjust or absorb the change.
It is not always the process or system that fails
Organisations spend vast sums of money and resource to design and improve systems and processes in order to improve the business (performance). Most of these investments simply do not pay off if they do not also deliver for value for customers. Conversely high impact interventions in the way customers are treated are dismissed offhand as immaterial or too expensive.
Exposing different functional departments to what real customers experience around the product, service or brand, often leads to insightful solutions that are achievable. However it requires discipline and tenaciousness not to “solve” the problem with another system (requirement) or process change, but iron out damaging policies and bad practices.
Organisations trying to close the gaps between departments by introducing or changing processes struggle in what to address and where to start. A strong focus on delivering customers the best possible experience can help organisations in mapping internal and external customer-facing activities. Aligning business processes and departments with the customer lifecycle creates a smoother experience for customers and staff alike.
Go for quick wins and keep an eye on the prize
Tackling all problems for all customers all the time is not realistic and a recipe for an expensive failure. Understanding the bigger problem or potential does not automatically mean there is one solution to all of the challenges. Breaking down the challenge into core components enables cross functional teams to identify quick wins. While realising internal or customer facing quick wins can engage an organisation, it is important to build towards more substantial improvements to achieve credibility internally and make significant impact on customers.
Build on success instead of building towards failure
The biggest advantage of quick wins, pilots and early prototypes is that these can be tested with staff and customers in “real” settings and build confidence and competence in addressing internal challenges. It is important that these individual successes together create a new internal dynamic that improves the experience of external customers and the staff alike.
Service blueprints and business roadmaps are essential tools to translate the momentum of individual initiatives into something bigger that builds towards new and substantial services.
Organizations that focus on frequent training see advantages in first call resolution - 65% vs. 58% for those who don't.
Inform people, involve departments, improve together
One of the implementation paradoxes is that smart, organised, professional departments can still hold on to misaligned activities and practices. This often has to do with line of site of departments, processes that no longer fit, or systems that do not support the business.
Co-creating a broader view with teams and departments should be followed up with a deep dive into familiar customer issues and opportunities. Investing cross departmental resources into delivering service improvement and innovations might not make the business case. However, success with a cross functional team achieves more long term capabilities than heroic actions of one department.
Small steps have major impact
Established businesses are often slow to adjust to new situation and embed new services. Using cross functional teams from the organisation – instead of departments – creates opportunities to not only innovate on paper but face up to the internal challenges of delivering the service. Taking on small and ever increasing complex issues to improve services, is a far more realistic approach to change the way organisations deliver the service and organise themselves internally.
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