Customer Experience 3.0

High-Profit Strategies in the Age of Techno Service

 Customer Experience 3.0

Author: John A. Goodman
Pub Date: August 2014
Print Edition: $24.95
Print ISBN: 9780814433881
Page Count: 256
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814433898

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Excerpt

CHAPTER 8

Taming Technology

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

technologies.

• 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

technology.

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

and external.

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

territory.

After-Action Analysis

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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