Once upon a time, many business leaders built their companies almost exclusively to achieve operational excellence – even if that meant customers were inconvenienced.
For my father’s generation (and to a considerable extent, my generation as well) businesses set rigid processes and customers endured them. In my small town, we had only one new car dealer, so if you wanted a new truck, you went through an absurd sales process that involved hours of price haggling.
Enter the age of the consumer, where most business leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of building processes around the wants, needs, desires, and lifestyles of their customers. In fact, more and more leaders are looking for ways to become easier to do business with.
As a customer experience consultant, I champion the importance of customer-centric design, but I caution against those who believe customer-centric design is an end unto itself. For example, I encourage my clients to think about an experience ecosystem. I want my clients to look not only through the lens of their customers but also through the lens of the team members serving those customers.
Imagine, for example, a business is transforming from a “command and control” operational culture. In the early stages, let’s assume leaders start evaluating their rigid processes by doing customer journey mapping (walking through their business from the customer’s vantage point – you can find out more on persona-based journey mapping in this blog). Customer journey mapping is a tremendous and powerful step in the right direction – but it is not the FINAL step.
Let’s assume that customer journey mapping leads to some keen insights and guides a series of changes that will greatly enhance the customer experience. Now let’s assume that one of those changes will be extremely difficult for employees to execute. For that specific change, the ecosystem will go out of balance and the success of that effort will likely not sustain. Worse yet, given the incredibly tight job market in the United States, arduous customer-centric service initiatives can lead to team member churn and therefore making it all the more difficult to affect that desired customer-centric enhancement.
If you have taken the time to regularly map your customer journeys, be ready to loop back on those maps and the possible changes they highlight. During that loopback phase, explore ways to create win/win experiences for internal and external customers alike. If, one of your possible customer experience elevation options will place an undue burden on team members, think carefully before you pursue that path. If you are like most companies, you’ll have more than enough opportunities to make the lives of customers better, so there’s no need to make the lives of your team members worse in the process.
I’d love to talk to you about your customer experience ecosystem, or changes you are contemplating on behalf of your customers. I’m here when you reach out.
Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.
Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli
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