Customer Experience 3.0
High-Profit Strategies in the Age of Techno Service
Author: John A. Goodman
Pub Date: August 2014
Print Edition: $24.95
Print ISBN: 9780814433881
Page Count: 256
e-Book ISBN: 9780814433898
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I recently called my Internet provider because the broadband was
down. After plowing through six levels of menus, entering my phone
number twice, and indicating what kind of service I had (why did they
not know from the phone number?), I was finally asked what my
problem was. When I responded that the problem was connecting to
the Internet, an on-hold message then informed me that most problems
could be resolved more quickly on the company’s website. The
Internet provider’s use of technology seemed designed to turn the
customer into a raving maniac. Do they do this on purpose?
Similarly, your company may have invested millions of dollars in
service technologies. Results, however, come down to how those technologies
are configured. Today’s fast-emerging mobile and Web capabilities,
in particular, can empower customers to service themselves,
whenever and wherever they want. When technology is poorly implemented
or used, it becomes a major barrier and a part of the problem
rather than a path to resolution. Taming technology means
making the technology transparent to the customer and using it to
seamlessly deliver the product or valued service that the customer desires.
In this chapter, you will learn:
• How to align technology and the ideal CE.
• How to smooth the impact of technological evolution.
• The benefits, pitfalls, and best practices of the most prevalent
• Metrics that will allow you to monitor technological effectiveness.
Full disclosure: This is not a chapter on IT project management.
Books and entire management degrees are available on that topic.
This chapter aims to provide tools and the understanding to harmonize
the evolution of technology and the CE.
Aligning Technology with the Ideal CE
A process map of the current CE should be your primary guide for
applying technology. Once the cross-functional CE process improvement
team has mapped the current CE, many process disruptors and
unnecessary activities that create cost and dissatisfaction will become
obvious targets for improvement. This mapping helps avoid the two
biggest challenges in implementing technology: automating existing
non-ideal, wasteful processes and modifying the processes to fit the
Constructing the CE Process Map for Existing Processes
The CE map of the current process can be constructed using the key
activities contained in the four-part CE framework in Chapter 2:
DIRFT, access, service, and listen-and-learn activities. Figure 8-1 lists
the 12 activities for the end-to-end CE, using the eight more detailed
activities contained in DIRFT, as described in Chapter 4.
Once the 12 boxes are arrayed, your next step, in conjunction
with the frontline staff and managers, is to map the detailed process
for each of the activities. For instance, the purchase activity should
describe the flow of each way a customer can purchase the product,
including what happens if they change their mind, make mistakes, or
use a credit card that is rejected. This process of mapping current CE
is identical to mapping the customer journey as described in the Harvard
Business Review article, “The Truth About Customer Experience,”
by Rawson, Duncan, and Jones. The result of this mapping
exercise will most likely be a flowchart many feet long, with dozens
of activities for each of the 12 basic activities (I have seen complete
CE charts 40 feet in length—you just work with one activity area at
a time). Each activity will interact with previous and future activities.
For instance, Figure 8-2 shows the primary process flow within the
service part of the CE framework; each activity could and should be
further detailed to create the more detailed picture of the customer
journey across all the touch points.
You will note in Figure 8-2 that the activities of creating awareness
(activity 1) and proactive communication (activity 16) are actually
part of the service access and DIRFT parts of the CE framework, respectively.
However, both of these communications are often initiated
by activities in the service part of the framework. Similarly, activities
13 and 14 (statistical generation and policy analysis for prevention)
are components of the listen-and-learn part of the CE framework.
Their performance is often embedded in the customer service function.
Analysis of these interlocking flows will highlight delays and
sources of error.
Review Existing Process for Disruptors
Once your team has mapped the current CE process, the next step is
to identify opportunities for process improvement. The best approach
is to examine each part of the process to identify the causes of customer
and employee frustration, unmet expectations, errors, delays,
and extra effort. The CE process improvement team can look for several
reliable symptoms of broken processes. These symptoms include
rework (e.g., where business forms or transactions are returned to be
done over or the same employee or customer must redo the activity
due to an error), ponderous manual actions by the customer or employee,
dropped calls, or a delay while awaiting information or decisions.
Whenever the company returns a submission to the customer
or a customer returns or rejects a product or offer, there is probably
an opportunity to improve the process.
For example, when an insurance underwriter found an error in
an application, she stopped her review and returned the form to the
customer or agent for correction. That person fixed the error and resubmitted
the application, which then required a whole new entry in
the application logging and tracking system. It then went back to the
original underwriter, who reviewed it again. If she found a second
error, she rejected the form again, and the same process was followed.
This sometimes happened four times on the same application, causing
delay, frustration, and expense.
Whenever the process chart shows delays, failed transactions, or
returned work, extra cost and unnecessary dissatisfaction result. A
good process fix is to create a form online that educates the customer
on common mistakes and then execute an edit check as the form is
completed so that an erroneous form can never be submitted.
Map the Ideal CE Process
Once the process disruptors have been identified, at least at a macro
level, go back and map what the ideal process should be. For this activity,
the best consultants are your frontline staff who actually do the
work, as well as a focus group of customers. You often can recruit
willing customers to give you input from your customer complaint
database. The ideal CE map should be your compass for the future.
Select Process Glitches to be Reengineered
The opportunities for improving the current CE should be triaged
to set priorities and focus on a few of the most flawed aspects of the
current process. Survey and complaint data will be helpful in setting
such priorities by identifying the customers’ key points of pain. Especially
at the beginning, you should pick and attack one or two issues.
Better a small success than a big disaster.
Assess any Proposed Technology to Assess Impact on CE
Once maps of the current and ideal CE process are in place, conduct
a review of any proposed new tool or technology to identify how it
will change each phase of the current CE process and whether it will
move the company toward or away from the ideal process.
Communicate to the Organization and Customer Base
A major error in many organizations is waiting until the process has
been reengineered and the programming completed before telling
the rest of the organization and the customer base what is going on.
This lack of communication both precludes useful input and leaves
everyone with the impression that management thinks the current
CE processes are fine, when both employees and customers are actually
frustrated. A bank used a proactive approach when it broadcast
upcoming systems changes and transitions well in advance to customers,
as well as to employees. This approach significantly improved
the perception of both caring and competence. The marketing department
often discourages such communication on the grounds that
it implies that the current process has problems. In reality, everyone
knows there are problems. Customers and employees need and want
to know that the problems are being addressed.
Smoothing the Impact of Technological Evolution
The ideal CE map should be the basis of your discussion with the IT
department. As soon as the IT, marketing, CE, and operating lines
of business units are all working from the same agreed-on reality, your
chances of success improve. Even though the ideal CE map provides
the basis for communication, you now must actively facilitate the
communication. The following are some best practices for making
the evolution of technology a positive experience for all parties, internal
Require That the Same Customer Identifier Be Used Everywhere
Not all data and information must be in the same system; it just has
to be linkable and based on uniform definitions. This requirement
has four aspects. First and most important, the key to linkage is the
customer identifier: The same customer identifier must be used in all
databases. Second, all accounts belonging to the same customer
and/or household must be householded, that is, associated with each
other. Third, a customer identifier should be tied to all operational
transactions. Finally, operational transactions and customer issues
must all be defined the same way. Engineers cannot refer to the issue
as corrosion while the service area refers to it as surface discoloration.
If these four aspects of data management are in place, there is a high
probability of what is now called Big Data success. The Cheesecake
Factory has executed this brilliantly. It used a single meal order and
billing system to tie together customer complaints, meal process inspections,
kitchen employment, and improvement tracking to each
of the 80 million meals served annually.
Jim Albert, CIO of Bankers Financial Corporation in St. Petersburg,
Florida, has developed several strategies to mitigate the different
perspectives of the IT and marketing departments and executives
in charge of lines of business, CE, and operations.2 Several of these
strategies are now discussed.
Blur the Lines
At Bankers Financial, IT business analysts work with the marketing
department to develop both business requirements and IT design
specifications. Further, the departments must make joint presentations
to executive management and often have joint happy hours. Finally,
IT departmental staff and executives are required to periodically
observe how the systems are used by the agents (who are the external
partners), the internal operations employees, and customer service
frontline employees. The IT staff and executives, while observing,
often ask the employees, “Why did you do that?” Such anthropological
observation works better than focus groups and standard interviews
because the IT staff and executives see what is actually done
versus being told what the staff knows is supposed to be done.
Solution Design Thinking
Move away from the megaproject and focus on day-to-day operations
to address practical problems. Avoid the we-need-a-completely-new-
system thinking and ask what can be done now to improve the current
system. This approach resonates with me because I recently heard an
IT executive tell a line customer service manager that the module she
desperately needed would be delivered “in about three years.” Jim Albert
has instituted what he calls, “Do it! Week” where a total fix to
an operational frustration must be analyzed, developed, tested, and
implemented within a single week. He says it sometimes takes less
than one day from start to finish to make a small system change that
can have a significant impact on the CE.
Pilot-Test Process Changes
The best people to pilot-test an activity are the people who will use
it, either employees or customers. IT and CE should partner to pilot
the improved processes manually to identify glitches. Then the new
technology should be tested in a real but safe environment. This is
how companies such as Chick-fil-A, CVS Pharmacy, and Family Express
(the Illinois convenience store chain) test new concepts—in a
store that is like a laboratory but using real employees and customers.
A quasi-laboratory setting allows the measurement of all aspects of
the experiment and openness to on-the-fly changes. The application
development can be streamlined using tools available in The Cloud.
Also, the risk of a disruption due to a development error can be limited
by testing the change in a single small product area or geographic
Every IT implementation should be analyzed to identify problems so
that similar future implementations eliminate the problem. A major
bank found that the same so-called standard problems always occurred
during the system transitions when a new bank was acquired.
Once the source of these problems was identified, part of the system
transition plan for each new bank acquisition was to plan so that the
standard problems were eliminated and did not happen. The bank
went from losing a significant number of customers during system
transitions to actually gaining customers during transitions.
Celebrate the Improvements
Recognition is a key motivator, and so two actions are required here.
First, celebrate the success of the whole team including the IT, business
improvement, and operations staff. When employees receive
positive executive feedback in person, it makes a huge impression,
and they will try to repeat their behavior. Second, communicate the
successes to all employees as well as to customers. I briefed an executive
on some ongoing problems that both customers and employees
had reported, and he retorted, “But we fixed those problems last quarter,
and the fixes have been cascading down the organization for the
last two months.” I asked, “Have you broadcast and celebrated the
fixes?” They had not: The company had assumed that employees and
customers would see the changes. It can take many months for customers,
and even some employees, to perceive a change unless you
point it out.
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