Michael Jordan is well known for the “Breakfast Club” routine that he created to build mental strength and physical endurance necessary to outplay the competition. This routine was a gruelling, early morning workout session in his basement gym, that took place daily, no excuses. Whether it was a game day or not. The takeaway here is that the invisible work set the foundation for results and, in MJ’s case, for greatness.
The same principle holds for service greatness. Winning at visible customer experience means that a business first has to win on the invisible side of its operations. This means focussing on Enablement, on Efficiency and on Evolution as three of the key levers that drive customer success.
Enablement includes the technology that powers the business, the horizontal collaboration across departments, data analytics that drive business intelligence and customer insights that influence marketing decisions.
Many businesses have invested in only the “minimum” required technological architecture and digital tools to enable basic buy-sell, or manufacture-sell operations. The real players invest in technology to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
Digital tools are used to go beyond the minimum delivery threshold. Those businesses that would have been investing in technology continuously, were way ahead of the digital migration emergency caused by the pandemic. They would not have needed to move at break neck speed to survive, like some of their laggard counterparts.
Horizontal collaboration connects the enterprise. When a customer comes to the front desk or the frontline counter for service, he or she experiences the level of invisible horizontal collaboration, across departments, at play.
“Talk” defines the level of precision with which transactions are executed. If the “talking” is harmonious, then the transaction is seamless and effortless. If “talking” is spotty, the result is service failures, complaints and, even reputational impairment.
There are few businesses that have engaged data and customer analytics as a strategic imperative in their decision making. The benefit of utilising customer analytics for example, lies in really getting to know and understand customers’ patterns of behaviour, buying motives and value expectations.
When a business follows through on these deep insights, customer personas can be created to make the marketing effort, as well as product and service differentiation, more targeted and therefore, more precise.
Efficiency is up next on the podium. Through the eyes of the customer, a business is expected to be “Prompt and Precise.”
Which is why it’s so difficult for customers to accept sustained errors, some of which are so fundamental that they should not be part of the error log. Human errors outstrip the number of machine errors generally. To customers, unresponsiveness, forgetfulness, lack of follow through and lack of technical knowledge are some of the usual suspects in service failures, while repetitive errors tend to come up as the most irritating.
Before the discussion about customer experience management even comes up, a threshold standard should be that zero errors is enforced to which every department is held accountable.
Three good starting points to achieve this standardisation, would be to ensure permanent fixes for errors, to eliminate human errors and to commit to doing things right from start.
If this shift towards quality control becomes a non-negotiable business guarantee, I guarantee that we will see an uplift in quality assurance.
The pandemic caused necessity to become the mother of acceleration, propelling many businesses to compress two to three years of digital transformation into two to three months. So, why stop here?
Having made the leap to a new space in 2020 that your business had not envisaged in 2019, it just makes sense to keep evolving your business.
We often discover what we’re capable of achieving when we’re under pressure. Just think of jumping over a six foot high wall, just to escape being mauled by a couple of raging dogs.
Why should businesses wait to be under pressure to put everything under the microscope and explore the opportunities for innovation?
They should do now what the Futurists tell us to do. Take a deep look into the future, see what changes are expected to happen within the next five to ten years, disassemble existing business blueprints to match what they’re seeing in the crystal ball and accelerate the required changes.
Businesses, like humans, crave stability. Uncertainty feels alien, produces fear and therefore encourages relapsing to a routine that feels comfortable and emotionally calming. But, this state is deceptively at odds with the need for action, simply to remain competitive in the world of business, given the confluence of changes that are coming hard and fast.
We are living in interesting times. In one fell swoop, the experience of the past four months has pushed us to the point of new realisations of what is possible when faced with little choice. The experience has revealed that limitations exist largely in our minds and, if nothing else, that businesses can set and achieve bold targets.
So if your business is intent on winning with its customers, all that has to be added to the new playbook, is the will to enable, to be efficient, to evolve and the immediate action to back up the will.