Responsive and accurate support for customer interactions points the way for the kind of management that organizations can apply to foster positive customer experiences, through the people, practices, and processes of the enterprise. But organizations must recognize that management doesn't mean attempting to control and dictate to the customer what the 'experience' will be. It does mean managing how well the enterprise provides a consistent experience across channels, how well it fulfills the needs and desires of customers based on customer terms, and even how well it delivers the right products and services.
Agile and effective business processes are instrumental to providing a sophisticated means to respond well to customer needs, while navigating many complex variables, moving from customer to customer. Well-designed and customer-oriented processes make a big difference when integrating multi-dimensional touch points for a harmonized view of customer interactions.
When measuring the effectiveness of business operations and initiatives, organizations usually derive success metrics from KPIs related only to internal business process performance and inward-focused business outcomes. Unfortunately these metrics are frequently out-of-synch with customer perceptions of how well the organization met customer expectations. Business and customer metrics can be mismatched in other aspects of the customer experience:
For instance the business may define the process cycle time – the length of time the process takes to run – as measured from when the customer places the order to when the products are dispatched. The customer, on the other hand, may well perceive the time taken to be from when they first went on to the website to look for a product, to the point at which the product started working. Clearly there can be a substantial difference between the two measures.
Ideally we want to ensure that our measures of process effectiveness (the Voice of the Process) are the same as the customer's measures (the Voice of the Customer), albeit the customer's measures are informal measures.
Source: BP Trends
Aligning customer and business views of process, experience and success using customer journey / touchpoint diagrams can reveal the disconnects between the perceptions of the organization and what customers are likely experiencing. Organizations are still working on finding more ways to capture an understanding of the actual customer experience. Direct intelligence is not easily attained. Insight is pieced together with data from many sources including customer surveys, content from social sites, customer repeat business, customer transactions, and interactions with customer service.
The customer perception of interactions with an organization is often the heart of the customer experience. In most cases, companies cannot truly manipulate what customers actually experience, and really shouldn't be thinking that way. But companies do have control over providing high quality interactions in many channels, and making sure that a consistent positive experience carries over from one channel to another. Organizations have the power to overhaul their business focus and processes to engender an internal "culture" where the customer is the high priority for all functions, and where excellent customer service frames every interaction with the organization.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
About the author: Julie Hunt understands the overlap and convergence of many business processes and software solutions that once were thought of as "separate" – and how this impacts software Vendors and Buyers, as well as the strategies that enterprises implement for how technology supports the business and its customers. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitive and on Twitter: @juliebhunt For more information: Julie Hunt Consulting – Strategies for B2B Software Solutions: Working from the Customer Perspective