The once favorite topic for improving business performance was Lean Six Sigma, however, the last two years have seen the ascendancy of Customer Experience (CX) as a focus for top teams. ‘Google trends’ is a good barometer of emerging interests and this graph demonstrates increasing interest in CX (blue) compared with LSS (red).
Curiously the largest interest in industrial age improvement techniques like Lean and Six Sigma is in non-English speaking countries, whereas Customer Experience is strongly represented in North America, UK, Australia and South Africa.
For those using the search term ‘Customer Experience,’ the associated topic list provides additional insight into searchers interests. The % trend reflects the growth year on year with ‘Omnichannel’ and ‘Digital data’ seeing explosive growth.
By way of additional information, a search with Epictions focused on Articles produces these top three pieces in the last three months on the theme of ‘Customer Experience – Omnichannel’.
1. The Future of Car Sales Is Omnichannel (Bain & Co)
The single biggest piece of advice I give to senior executives setting out on the Customer Experience journey is to STOP. Yes seriously, the vast majority of CX efforts are completely misaligned.
CX Efforts Misaligned
Don’t get me wrong the intentions are good. Unfortunately, it goes something like this:
Top Team are listening and decide they need to get with this customer centricity/Outside-In/working backwards thinking.
Senior Management makes noises that the customer is THE thing the business must focus on.
The Executive engage the marketing and sales guys to get with it and start pushing the message.
Functional leaders hear the noise and bluster. They start using the language, whilst thinking this is just more fluff and nonsense. They make the right noises for now but keep their heads down, because they know this will go the same way as so many other ‘strategic initiatives’.
Fundamentally functional heads carry on working with the out of date reward system that promotes sub-optimal industrial age thinking and practice.
The Executive see the usual inertia, results not coming through, apathy and indifference and decide their business isn’t really an Amazon.
Top Team then reverts to just getting better at what we are doing, then when someone in ‘our industry’ proves it we will follow.
Functional leaders breathe a sigh of relief and invest even more in industrial age systems and training. The illusion of doing something, in this case, is actually worse than doing nothing.
The businesses failure is noted by customers who move to those who do understand and deliver Customer Experience success.
The company becomes another footnote in the history books. Talked about at business schools and picked apart because of the failure to get the new Outside-In customer-centric mindset.
Making Customer Experience Successful everywhere all the time
This isn’t rocket science (unless you are NASA of course). Understanding that the structures and ways of working from the industrial age were NEVER designed to be customer-centric. They were established to make things faster by optimizing production lines.
And oh, don’t think because you are not in manufacturing you are OK. It is likely your complete ways of working will be making everything look like production management systems, with talk of leaning out, waste reduction, standardization, efficiency, productivity. Sound familiar?
Understanding this Customer Experience misalignment is fundamental.
I encourage doing three things before re-joining the CX road-march:
Understand how big the gap is between what you are doing and what Successful Customer Outcomes you need to be delivering.
Audit the current key performance indicators.
Are they mostly about outputs?
Usually, the balance will be 80% output metrics (like calls answered, Average Handle Times, Abandoned Rates, Projects completed on time to budget etc.).
Meanwhile, the really important measures that tell you a Successful Customer Outcome is being achieved will only be a small proportion.
What you measure is what you get and no amount of Customer Experience drum banging will work unless those measures of Outcomes become the most important.
Create an awareness of what real CX success is all about.
This isn’t just the stories. It is about the actual things on the ground that need to change. The WHY and the HOW go hand in hand. Often times upskilling a group of key players at all levels to make them Ambassadors for the Customer achieves way more than massive corporate investment in branding and image.
In conclusion, Customer Experience cannot be treated just like another corporate initiative. To achieve success requires a significant shift in mindsets, and when that is achieved the realignment of the Enterprise to Outside-In can really begin.
Google tells us that lean thinking and practice has had its heyday. However, the overlay of ‘digital everything’ makes processes more important than ever, so what are the leading Lean Six Sigma articles of the last 12 months?
5th: Why Lean Six Sigma is a necessity in every industry
Intelligence Quality Intelligence Quality is a Management and Business consulting firm that specializes in Lean and Six Sigma strategies.
“There is a false notion about Lean Six SIgma wherein it is a waste of money to incorporate the concept in the company, however, one fails to realize that like any other department, Lean Six Sigma is a necessary method that every industry must follow in order to rectify their financial curve.”
4th: 5 Process Improvement Strategy Trends of Future-Ready Firms | AccountingWEB
Dustin Hostetler is a Lean Six Sigma consultant and shareholder of Boomer Consulting Inc. As a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with extensive experience working inside a large regional CPA firm, he has taken proven Lean techniques from the manufacturing floor and tailored them to bring groundbreaking value to public accounting firms
“The firms that have been comfortable with status quo, quite frankly, are going to be rudely awakened as the intersection of technology and process continues to change the game around them. I can’t help but think of companies like Blockbuster and Kodak that were at one time comfortable with the status quo.”
As a provider of LSS services and resources Scmula helps people ‘get’ techniques and approaches, tried, tested and proven.
“Lean Six Sigma is one of the most advanced and effective methodologies available for business process improvement and optimization. It is especially adept in battling a wide range of problems and inefficiencies. To help better understand and deal with waste, this approach classifies them into the 8 Forms of Deadly Waste. This classification is important because it makes waste much easier to uncover and then eradicate. It also helps you identify environmental improvement opportunities.”
“Do you ever walk into a store and know at a glance where to find what you need? Do you notice that seemingly long lines can often move really quickly? Do you find yourself wondering why things don’t go horribly wrong more often? Lean Six Sigma is at work!”
Google tells us that Customer Experience is a significant and trending topic, the graph below ably demonstrates that point. (See google trends)
However, given all the noise what are THE most popular articles on the theme?
Here we present the seven most popular of the last couple of years.
Read and share
7th: Putting customer experience at the heart of next-generation operating models
This one for is McK’s second in the top seven this time…
“Digital is reshaping customer experience in almost every sector. Digital first attackers are entering markets with radically new offers, disrupting the ways that companies and customers interact and setting a high bar for simplicity, personalization, and interactivity.”
Teaching MBA courses in international business, global competitive strategies, international market research, and capstone courses in strategic planning and market research gives Louis the opportunity to research mega trends. Add to his portfolio writing for Forbes establishes his credentials in the space of customer transformation. In this article, he reflects on the coming ‘Internet of Things’ everywhere, and the impact on business and customers.
“87% of retailers will deploy mobile point-of-sale (MPOS) devices by 2021, enabling them to scan and accept credit or debit payments anywhere in the store…”
5th: The expanding role of design in creating an end-to-end customer experience
The second of McK’s into the top seven this time. Lines between products, services, and user environments are blurring. The ability to craft an integrated customer experience will open enormous opportunities to build new businesses.
“As digitization drives more and faster disruptions—and as customers increasingly desire the immediacy, personalization, and convenience of dealing with digital-marketing leaders—the business landscape is undergoing an upheaval.”
4th: The Employee Experience Is the Future Of Work
Working at Future Workplace, (an HR Advisory and Research firm) Jeanne casts her glow over the changes to the employee role within business today. She is also the co-author of The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules For Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees:
“Today, almost every company is undergoing a digital transformation. Cloud and mobile computing, artificial intelligence, and increasing automation have created the potential to transform nearly every aspect of a business.”
3rd: United Airlines Changes Its Policy On Displacing Customers
Correspondent, San Francisco, National Desk NPR. With an eclectic style ranging across diverse topics such as medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development he understands CX first hand. Here we see a well-accounted discussion of, yes again, United Airline’s trials and tribulations.
“United Airlines crew members will no longer be able to bump a passenger who is already seated in one of the airline’s planes…”
2nd: How to Gamify your Customer Experience and Win…
Proudly proclaiming himself as a disrupter and innovator Mike’s perspective on Customer Experience is refreshing and unique in a world of sameness. He writes with an entertaining AND well thought out logic.
“I honestly can’t think of a more difficult industry to get into than candles. You have thousands of manufacturers who are all selling the same thing… A piece of wax with a string in the middle and the only way to differentiate yourself is by changing your label, along with the size, color, and smell of that wax.”
1st: Delivering exceptional customer experiences – an art and science
Luke works on the Retail partner side of Microsoft and benefits from first-hand experience of the changes in and around Customer Experience.
“Interacting effectively with customers has traditionally been a form of art, especially in face-to-face settings. But now that customers are increasingly shopping on social media, mobile apps, and websites, a bit of science can help win their loyalty. How can retailers combine customer service expertize with advanced technology to create exceptional customer experiences?”
1. Design digital experiences around the customer needs, not around your customer mythology
Despite mountains of data customer insight remains an elusive animal. As a direct consequence, digital is frequently applied across existing processes without fully understanding customer pain points and the real Successful Customer Outcome.
Making invalid assumptions can irritate and permanently drive customers away. Take grocery checkout for example where retailers digitize an existing experience based on assumptions of customers wants. The resulting experience may still be fractured, with faulty scanners (they break a lot), long lines, and the more than necessary Associates to provide support for glitches. Not a great customer experience. If, however you develop an understanding of customer needs (even when customers do not know them) you may discover the checkout process is not required at all. Eradicating that process meets customer’s desires in terms of speed, convenience, and simplicity.
Amazons (i) checkout-less retail stores, walk in walk out enabled by scanning your phone on entry, scanning goods as you move around the store, and then scanning your phone on departure with automatic billing, provides just such an experience. In addition to improving the experience, costs are reduced and the customers come back for more and thereby grow revenues. In fact, this triple-crown benefit is a sure fire way of measuring any customer experience transformation.
2. Drive digital initiatives to simplify and improve convenience
Customer Research demonstrates the disconnect between what executives think customers value in digital, compared to working out their needs in a more objective and structured way. A technique such as the Successful Customer Outcome Canvas (SCOC)(ii) provides a step by step approach to articulating actual needs and aligning the experiences to deliver them. The resulting insight in terms of a set of objective measures based on needs allows the organization to question every interaction in the context of ‘does this contribute to the SCO?’ and if not, how do we remove it?
Uber(iii) are a terrific example of ‘one click simple’ with the apps user interface designed around understanding the overall Successful Customer Outcome and then delivering an optimum number of interactions. Providing this digital experience helps meet the customer’s desire to move efficiently, pay digitally, and provide feedback in the moment. Part of that ‘Successful Customer Outcome Canvas’ insight was in removing the anxiety of where is the car and how long do I wait? You can see the car and driver speeding towards you on the app.
3. Categorize your customers by need, rather than segmenting by circumstance.
Dealing with customers as segments (age, income, zip code etc.) misses the vital personalisation that digital excels at. By force fitting customers into standardized processes suited to segments creates friction and fractured experiences. Diagnosing objective needs may, for instance, highlight the digital savviness (or not) of a category of customer, and in doing so allow you to create a bespoke experience. Rather than industrial age segmentation, organizations that adopt Outside-In(iv) categorization meet and evolve customer expectations in an informed way with greater empathy and the resulting trust that “you have my back”.
Are you ready? Ask yourself these questions (be honest and not complacent!)
a. Are digital initiatives aligned to Successful Customer Outcomes with optimized touch points, or are they designed around internal functional considerations?
b. Is your approach to innovation Outside-In and not restricted to departments, internal specialisms, legacy systems, regulations and last century mindsets?
c. Are you tapping in-the-moment real-time analytics to understand what your customers are experiencing as it happens, and then course correcting those experiences as they occur?
d. How are you managing your customer’s digital expectations? Are you keeping them informed of developing digital services?
e. What mechanism are you using to incorporate new digital learnings into the customer experiences? And are those learnings (next practices) gathered from outside of your sector, or are they just industry best practices?
Traditionally Marketing has played the central role in bringing the Customer Experience (CX) to the attention of the organization, and while the intent is good the impact is often very, very bad.
Why? Marketing is noted for their soft and fluffy approaches and when it comes down to delivering they simply do not connect sufficiently with the rest of the organization. Often times it isn’t their fault. Consider if you have been trained in marketing methods from the last century – why should we then criticize the marketers when those approaches don’t work? especially now in the digitized promiscuous customer age? Seriously, we must get more scientific about the customer experience and be brutally truthful, science and marketing are worlds apart.
Don’t lose hope if you are a victim of a marketing led CX effort.
Based on 2017 research with 300+ global organizations* the BPG distilled winning strategies in terms of what is delivering in our rapidly Uberfying world…
1. Forget the theory.
It was written for a different time and no amount of trying to make it fit will address the challenges of rebellious, promiscuous and impatient customers who are literally connected to social media around the clock. You need to anticipate and navigate the ever-changing environment without calling another meeting, needing to talk with the other C levels, or indeed brief the Public Relations department. Simply put – You do not have the time.
2. Connect the dots across the organization.
Customer experiences create all our work, without exception. Fundamentally, you can link everything that is going on inside your company with an interaction somewhere at some time. Can you see that connection and is it known the rest of the organization? If you can’t then start connecting those dots to explain how everyone is intimately connected to successful customer outcomes.
3. Ensure rewards pay people for the right things.
Here is a paradox. If you pay people for doing things do not be surprised if the stuff they do doesn’t contribute to success for the customer. For instance, call centers are wedded to managing calls. Average Handle Times, Abandon Rates, Failure demand and so on. How much of that relates to achieving an effective resolution for a customer (not the scotch mist type of help desk support and closed calls)? Next practice suggests reward structures based on delivering successful outcomes. It is less about measuring what is done and more about delivering successful outcomes.
Are you Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)pointing you towards success, or are they just number blinding you? Here is a quicky to try… Look at your top 20 KPI’s and mark them red, amber, green. Red is for outputs (how many, where and when), Green is Outcomes (the result of outputs). If the balance is red you need to shift the emphasis, and in doing so the important measures of Outcomes become the ‘beacon on the hill’ to guide all activity to the right place.
5. Learn to see around the corner.
The future isn’t predictable, precise and cast in concrete. If recent times tell us anything it is that the business of prediction is more wrong than right in our turbulent world. You need a team around you that understand no amount of planning and due diligence will get you there. While you are offsite planning the next five years your competitors are winning the ever fickler customers who regard your brand as staid and ‘yesterday’. Up your game and make sure the people around you understand the new dynamic. Stop them relating to 20th-century models and get them thinking and delivering to the new order of business. It is now or never.
If you want to stretch your team join us for the one day ACXP ‘hands-on’ doing session designed to let you take away actionable strategies and techniques fine-tuned in world leading organizations like Apple, Emirates, Zara, Zappos, Bentley, Disney to name a few!
Here’s the place to find out more: http://bit.ly/ACX2017
* The BPG conduct periodic research across its membership of 90,000 professionally qualified registrants based in 116 countries.