Thursday, July 9, 2015

Is Customer Experience a Sum of Processes

The process is part of the CX, but also the CX is sum of the process.

Customer-Centric process thinking has become a part of everyone’s job. Process-thinking is a mindset, not a procedure to be followed. But not all processes and improvements are equal, hence there is the need for a formal evaluation process to set priorities so organizations pursue the most meaningful initiatives first. From process management perspective, is Customer Experience (CX) a sum of processes? How to manage CX in systematic way?

A set of questionnaires: The purpose of a customer-centric process is not to dictate procedures, process design is not about one best way. And a process design is a pattern, not an instruction. List a set of questionnaires to clarify plan of customer-centric process implementation, control and measures.
- Internal Status Quo of the existing one
- How many processes or customer touch points are included
- How many staff people are involved
- How much time/ finance requires at each step or touch points
- Is there some points taking too much time and money
- What are company internal performance versus Customer Experience (their expectations/ satisfaction)
- Is it possible to measure it in each Touch Point
- How to reveal activities = waste of time and money, which don't give any added value
-What are companies weaknesses and strengths against competitors
- What activities can be done to improve processes to save time and money
-What are you hoping to accomplish? What are your KPIs? People, process and technology

Whether top down or bottom up, a systematic feedback and correction is highly essential. In such cases, particularly the top down ones, a transparent feedback generally does not exist due to great feeling of effectively developed and implemented. It is important that the changes to be brought in are not for cosmetic purposes nor to fix something that is not broken. At the leadership level from management perspective, it is necessary to initially find out if there is a problem. The leader must have a vision on where he or she wants to bring the company to, get feedback from all senior levels and then come up with a proposal and get the feedback. Unless you have true buy in at all levels, success becomes very difficult.

Also don’t set process without input from front-line workers. For sure you need to have extensive input, also from front-line workers, when designing the processes. The front-line workers must be involved in the customer-centric process definition (or revision/improvement). Because front-line workers often have direct experience to serve customers. After a draft design, pilot the process to make sure it gives the expected result. Here you could also involve external partners as supplier and customers - they could give completely new insights and ideas. The question would be: which level of worker and what is required of these selected few? Involving the end line too much also might create hurdles in the improvement efforts (negative perception, lack of understanding of the whole - how the processes integrate with one another, and so on). As a follow-up question: how to drive the discussion between "thinkers" and "doers"? At which point one takes precedence over the other? Making procedures practically successful is a "success factor" of having processes work. But the giant gap between procedures and processes is exactly that the same given process can be executed through a variety of procedures (this is the entirety of the significance of automation!) without the procedures changing the design of the process.

The process is part of the CX, but also the CX is sum of the process. Not all processes and improvements are equal because each touch-point (in any process) does not always have the same effect; however, every part of the process is interlinked and the smallest touch point will have an effect (bottleneck) on a major touch point further up or down the line, and visa versa, and therefore will have an overall effect on the “whole” process, but the costs for either a minor or major touch point could be big or small - equally or unequally - and then there’s the overall cost saving attached to the end result and, do not forget the ultimate effect on the Customer Experience. By improving the process, you should also improve the CX by speeding up communication, shorten lead-times, improve quality, reducing costs, etc., all of which improves the customer experience and enabling the company to reap better revenue, profits, grow market share and attract investors. Customer needs are the primary reasons for any process model. The customer experience is affected by every single touch point within a process; and by every single person who enables a process to flow efficiently. An ultimately honed and efficient business process should offer many valuable experiences and benefits on both sides! You can’t have a consistently great customer experience without good processes and good process management.

In many cases, the contributing factor to Customer Experience (CX) is more than just process. It's how all the business processes fit together, how the accountability, ownership and handoffs between teams and processes are designed. It's the entire value stream that influences the customer experience. As long as each department works together to address common goals and objectives, and CX is certainly a common interest, continued improvement and positive CXs are achievable! When referring to process, include roles and responsibilities, process flow, handoffs and interactions, as well as governance - ways to monitor, measure and report on performance against KPIs and CSFs. A company which embarks on CX initiatives should not departmentalize the process, but treat each department in the overall process as another internal customer which might help eliminate the “them & us” syndrome in companies. Everyone and every department should understand how the whole (overall) process eventually affects the ultimate paying customer, at the beginning and at the end of the process! With process improvement, bottlenecks in customer touchpoints can be solved. You will lose value if you see process and CX as separate thing. You would have no process without customer touch-points, therefore, the customer interactions are the route course of all of your internal interactions. Customer exists first, hence the process to serve customer better comes into existence. Result: removing the customer dissatisfaction and improve overall customer experience.

So the contributing factor to CX is more than just process. It's how all the business processes fit together, how the accountability, ownership and handoffs between teams and processes are designed. It's the entire value stream that influences the customer experience. The key here is consistency, you can have one of great experiences with limited processes, but you won't get it right in the majority of cases, or ideally in all cases if you don't design and manage processes properly. It depends on how relevant the process is to impacting the customer experience. A case can probably be made that all process improvement leads someway to an improvement in customer experience. However, it’s necessary to have a formal process in place that requires a clearly defined business case with cost/benefit analysis before any investment is made. Doing so helps ensure resources are invested in the right areas for the right reasons, and expected value is known beforehand so realization can be monitored, measured and reported along the journey.


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