6 Ways to Transform Process and the Customer Experience (at the Same Time)

Steve Towers Keynotes

Where do I start?

I was keynoting a conference in Europe recently, and senior executives in the room were getting the rationale behind moving Outside-In. However, there seemed to be two perplexed groups in the place.

One was what a refer to as the ‘traditional process guys’, and the other ‘the customer is first people’, and interestingly they both asked the same question “Where do we start?”

My honest and most direct answer is “You do not have a choice. You have got to start where you are and go from there!” OK, I get what you’re thinking, how could they take that away and begin to transform their organizations?

So, I walked them through TWO distinctly different ways to navigate to Outside-In working and practice, depending on your mindset, enterprise history and maturity. For the two categories of customer in the room, the NEEDS are the same, just the way they navigate to achieving them is different.

What are the Results?

From a results perspective, both approaches focus on winning the triple crown, that is Improving Service, Growing Revenues and Reducing Complexity (and hence lowering costs).

ApproachProcess EngineeringCustomer First
FocusProcess is the starting pointStarts with Customer Needs
ScopeReengineering the ProcessesAligning everything to Customer Needs
IntentionBuild out from Process to Department to Division to EnterpriseArticulate Successful Customer Outcomes and Remove the complexity of things that do not contribute to it
BenefitsLocal wins building to business-wide transformationImmediate delivery against Triple Crown benefits
Executive Buy-inSlow burn, however when they see the benefits and ‘get it’ the support is significantStarts at the strategic level so influences everything the organization does
RecommendationIf your remit is just ‘improving processes’ this approach will get you their steadily, however, the challenges facing traditional business are seismic so is there time? So, make immediate gains but push hard for more quickly.By demonstrating the value of ‘customer first’ in terms of the triple crown the enterprise can align quickly and effectively. Importantly avoid the ‘soft and fluffy’ sentiments expressed by many in the customer experience world.

How can I Implement?

Back in 2006 the BPG launched the CEMMethod™ and built out an approach, using the 50+ techniques based on global next practice from companies like Virgin, Zara, BMW, Zappos, Apple and Emirates. Since then more than 3,000 companies in 116 countries have become accredited and certified to transform their processes and organizations.

Now in version 11, the choice you make in deployment is based on your ambition and remit within the enterprise.
If you are a leader needing to embrace the digital customer ‘Customer First’ leaps out as the main option. Alternatively, if you are in a traditional process-based business (lean, six sigma, BPM etc.) the more conservative ‘process engineering’ approach may be preferred.

You can access the following resources that will help you make an informed choice:

CEMMethod™ – review its potency and pedigree:
www.cemmethod.com

Outside-In The Secret of 21st century companies (free access): http://bit.ly/StevesOIBook

The Accredited Customer Experience Program 2018-19: https://www.bpgroup.org/acxp1819.html

The Certified Process Professional Program: https://www.bpgroup.org/certifiedprocessprofessional.html

I look forward to guiding you to transformation when you are ready!

The Shocking Truth about Customer Experience


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:

  1. Top Team are listening and decide they need to get with this customer centricity/Outside-In/working backwards thinking.
  2. Senior Management makes noises that the customer is THE thing the business must focus on.
  3. The Executive engage the marketing and sales guys to get with it and start pushing the message.
  4. 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’.
  5. Fundamentally functional heads carry on working with the out of date reward system that promotes sub-optimal industrial age thinking and practice.
  6. The Executive see the usual inertia, results not coming through, apathy and indifference and decide their business isn’t really an Amazon.
  7. Top Team then reverts to just getting better at what we are doing, then when someone in ‘our industry’ proves it we will follow.
  8. 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.
  9. The businesses failure is noted by customers who move to those who do understand and deliver Customer Experience success.
  10. 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:

  1. Understand how big the gap is between what you are doing and what Successful Customer Outcomes you need to be delivering.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Want more guidance and tips like this?


☑ More Articles like this one
– visit my CX Obsession resources

 ☑ Upskilling and mentoringEvery level from the boardroom to the lunch room – BP Group

☑ In person and virtual trainingThe ACXM™ program

 ☑ Executive briefings and keynotesHow to get your hands on me and other CXperts (see what I did there?)

There is no excuse for complexity.

There is no excuse for complexity. It is a consequence of muddled thinking and a lack of understanding of the true goal of the organization, which is creating Successful Customer Outcomes.

Complexity has developed as organizations have added new routes to market, new ways of delivering service, new enterprise IT systems and a myriad of improvement approaches. Each internal functional specialism has developed a mindset to optimize their part of the organization, sometimes at the expense of others. The unwieldy complexity that results has caused a reaction primarily aimed at the need to create order out of this chaos, as if accepting that complexity itself as a right to be. This is not so. Let us unravel the muddle of complexity once and for all.

All work in an organization is fundamentally created by the need to provide product or service to the customer. Everything else is a consequence of that need, which creates value for the shareholders and creates a livelihood for the work force. All else follows.

Furthermore all interactions in meeting the needs for customers are the cause of all work within an organization. These interactions, or Moments of Truth[i], create work in so far as we need to attend to a request internally.

In doing so we interact with our colleagues, systems and other internal processes, and create internal Moments of Truth, which can be referred to as Breakpoints[ii]. The way we deal with Moments of Truth and Breakpoints is underpinned by Business Rules[iii] which may be thought of as ‘decision points within processes’.

These three entities determine the shape of our organization, the internal landscape of how we do work. The resulting activities from Moments of Truth, Breakpoints and Business Rules create the very processes themselves. In fact process is simply an effect caused by the way we choose to interact and guide the customer to obtain our products or service.

Think about that – process is an effect. If that is the reality then the vast range of tools and techniques created in the last century, and sometimes before, are fixing an effect. It is like taking painkillers for discomfort and nothing more. If we are not getting to grips with the causes of the pain it will surely get worse and as we discover, stronger pain killers are then required.

That’s the rub. We have been systematically fixing the wrong things and is it any wonder that change doesn’t stick? Have you ever had that feeling that this is the same project challenge as before, just dusted off and here we go again? It is because we are not fixing the causes of work, and while we continue to ignore the causes the complexity worsens, costs increase and service suffers.

Einstein put it well when he said
“We can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”

First Steps into Outside-In Thinking Part 4b) – Sustained Focus and Reduced Complexity

Outside-In is more than a series of tools and techniques to view and improve our business. It is designed as ‘practical thinking’ or a ‘business attitude’ to be orientated to as much of the business that the practitioner or management requires. If implemented to the greatest degree then a company may design and represent its organisation charts around the customer with the customer as the driving central theme. It may represent performance measures using Outside-In measures as its KPIs.

The thinking does not prevent other techniques to be used in analysing and improving our business but it does ensure Successful Outcome is maintained as a central theme even when CEO’s, boards and senior managers change. If focus is only maintained at a tools and techniques level they tend to be pigeon holed into a specific silo and more likely to become forgotten or ignored as the latest panacea for change raises its head.

Taking the Complexity out of how we view our business

One of the issues that change practitioners face is that of the underlying complexity of the business we are trying to improve or change.

How many changes to the way we do business seem obvious once we have identified what they are but somehow eluded us when we are looking at our businesses as a ‘haystack’ of processes?

When we move from high level management representations to process detail, a much more complex picture emerges which we have defined on the basis on that’s what we do. But if we look at that process again from the customer viewpoint then the process is very different. Outside-In shows that the way we traditionally view process is an illusion and prevents us from viewing business in a way to enable significant change.

Viewing what we do from the perspective of the customer enables us to think of performance change initiatives that would never been possible if we had studied our business from the traditional left to right top to bottom basis inherited from the industrial change.

What Price Complexity?

Complexity is insidious. Costs go sky high.

People get confused and systems can’t cope.
When production and service cycles take forever, and costs are high, chances are that most of your processes are mired in complexity. Since Victorian times, companies have felt compelled to offer consumers whatever they want, creating a myriad of choice with goods and services each having their own process and production lines.

In turn these processes are supported by complex systems and require specific skills for bespoke services and products. How often do you hear the recital “oh we’re very different around here. What we are do is unique in the industry.”
And it probably is to the detriment of the very people you are trying to please – the customer.

Consider a few of the not so hidden costs of complexity:

1. Customer inconvenience – Your customers have to negotiate your complex system and its mind-numbing array of alternatives.
Q. Just how many Moments of Truth are there?

2. Unwieldy sales processes – The sales systems needed to support complex product lines soon grow too cumbersome, whether they require filling out complicated order forms, getting indecipherable invoices or navigating endless voice mail paths.
Q. How many rules exist to ‘guide and direct’ and are now out of date slowing things to crawl?
Q. How many hand-offs occur internally, and are they necessary?
Eradicating those Moments of Truth, Rules and Breakpoints can change everything.

3. Impact on management – Eventually, even your managers will find numerous services and processes too much to track.
Q. How much money have you spent training people to deal with this complexity?
Remove the complexity and those inside-out approaches such as Six Sigma and Lean are not required!

4. As an absolute, the greater an organization’s complexity, the less focused its management.
Q. Where does all that management time get directed? Fire fighting and fixing problems caused by the nightmare of complexity.
Refocus management time to helping align processes for successful outcomes.

Kindest Regards

James Dodkins
Chief Customer Officer
BP Group

BP GROUP SOAPBOX 3: Do We Need another Process Methodology?

The Soapbox series is designed to be provactive and let people air their views in a mutually respectful place. You may not agree, and all the better for it, so explain your perspective and share your commitment to transforming the planet!

Outside-In at Apple strikes a chord

BP Group CPP Master® Arun Kumar (with noted technology innovators Gieom in India) comments:

Just saw the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference….and I am overwhelmed by iOS6 features on a phone. They have tied up with the likes of BMW, Honda, Jaguar, Audi to have a SIRI button in the next 12 months in their cars where traffic, weather, turn by turn navigation and Realtime Estimated time to arrive at a destination can be manipulated using voice on the iphone. They are calling it going from handsfree driving to Eyes free driving.
This wouldn’t have been possible if you don’t think outside in…..if you don’t make the process for the experience of the customers and not just for your capabilities. Many I talk to think the innovation is a gamble…..how frustrating when actually innovation can be achieved by looking at a process and thinking of creating an ecosystem with others to achieve that. But anyway, happy that I can relate to these innovations and think it’s just how you look at your processes and not some design room magic by einstein haired scientists. Thanks for the halo.
(Arun is third from the left)
And thank you Arun for the observation!

How can you sell process to everyone?

A terrific introduction to process featured at the PEX US 2012 process conference. Check this video out and point your colleagues to its use. It will make the job of demonstrating the value of process much easier. Thanks to Diana at the PEX network.

New www.bpgroup. org features FIVE Outside-In Blogs

The BPGroups new website now features five blogs from leading thinkers and CPP Masters in the field of Enterprise BPM & Outside-In.

To visit the blogs: click http://www.bpgroup.org/blogs.html and review the drop down menu -enjoy!

Successful Customer Outcomes
Steve Towers – 160 articles on the theme of Outside-In

BP Community
the original BPM community – Events, Resources, community & Links

Outside-In from Janne Ohtonen
Words from the wise from the author of OIDash

The Process Ninja
Craig Reid Scottish through and through however now from down-under

OutsideIn Service Management
Ian Clayton shows us the way with Service Management

If you recognise a good Outside-In location let us know: rachel.smith@bpgroup.org

Customer Expectations in this coming year