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Placing the customer at the centre of your business transformation

 
 

Next Gen Insights | Justin Marcucci |
23 April 2019

When it comes to embarking upon a fundamental business transformation, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is incorrectly prioritising the customer - the ‘user’ - in the decision tree and design process.

To be clear, most businesses are beginning to realise that customer experience is important. After spending the first 20 years of my career imploring decision-makers to carefully consider user needs and expectations, it’s refreshing to see it becoming a more common practice, and as a result, I am nursing delicate embers of hope for the continued prevalence of this thinking in our industry.

There are numerous statistics that back up this thinking. The number of companies who believe that they offer great customer experience was measured by Bain to be at 80%, but the number of companies whose customers agreed with that statement was as low as 8%. There is clearly a gap. This is because there is a difference in believing customer experience is important and understanding how to transform your business to prioritise it.

The pivotal shifts that need to occur when organisations undergo a transformation are centred on perspective and vantage point. When most companies begin this process, they approach decisions incorrectly and without the right perspective on the problems to be solved.

A decision, by definition, is the deliberate selection of a course of action based upon the logical processing of collated facts or data. Most businesses establish a factual basis for transformation using their existing architectural components, systems, and platforms, and these building blocks become the foundation upon which all other decisions are built.

While this is certainly a practical approach, it dramatically limits the transformational impact of the endeavour. By following this approach, unspoken limitations are placed on any ensuing product or experience because it has to mirror the existing arrangement, functionality and data boundaries present in the base IT estate.

These businesses discuss new products, new features and new functionality, but do so within the vertical silos of their existing platforms. They essentially limit the scope of their transformation from the very start. They apply old thinking when attempting to solve new problems, stemming from where they choose to prioritise the user.

It sucks – and customers are not going to keep quiet about it anymore. Thanks to social media, customers have a platform to praise or condem a brand publically. United Airlines lost $1.4 billion when their share price dropped 4% overnight as a reaction to a Facebook video showing the poor handling of removing a customer from an overbooked flight. It’s clear customer experience can affect every aspect of your business, especially your bottom-line.

In reality, the overall customer experience should sit at the heart of any business strategy and be prioritised in all transformation programs. A customer’s experience is comprised of all the user episodes which exist within a business or product line. The rating of a CX ‐ and the variance between ‘good’ and ‘great’ ‐ is determined by the aggregate user effort needed to complete those episodes. The less effort required, the better the experience.

When a user interacts with your business, they are trying to complete a macro-task ‐ a user episode ‐ whether that’s buying something, creating an account, looking up information or changing their details. Users don’t care about the architecture of your systems or the vertical platforms within your technology estate. But chances are that to complete that full user episode, the user will need to cut horisontally across a large portion of that estate, pulling data and accessing functions that live in several distinct systems.

When you begin the transformation process using your core architectural components as the primary basis for decisions, you’ll never deliver a truly transformational customer experience, as you’ll be designing products around what is possible technically for your existing architecture, and not what is ideal for your users.

Instead start your transformation by documenting all of the user episodes needed for your customers to transact. Then, one by one, redesign those episodes to decrease the effort required, removing steps from the process and reducing the time needed to complete tasks. Then take a step back and reconsider the design for a supporting architecture that will optimally enable those user episodes. What you’ll find is that the resulting platforms will represent a dramatic change in your current state, and probably won’t resemble the vertically-oriented business platforms in place today.

This is not a bad thing. It might not have been something you planned on doing, but it’s critical to delivering exceptional CX ‐ and it’s this kind of reoriented thinking about infrastructure that will allow it to scale more elegantly as the needs of the business continue to change over time.

You wouldn’t want to build a beautiful new home on an uncertain foundation – and you certainly don’t want to do it with beautiful new products. Strengthen and reimagine the core of your business IT systems, and recognise the kind of change internally and externally that truly transforms companies.

Remember, the basis for transformation is change.

Justin Marcucci

Chief Digital Officer

Justin has spent the last 20 years helping clients provide the kind of customer experiences that build lasting brand loyalty. As chief digital officer, Justin combines strategy, creativity and technical know-how to unite the agendas of CMOs and CIOs. If you think that sounds impossible, don’t worry, he is a rock-star that understands quantum physics, a husband to a woman who is cooler than he is, a father to three awesome kids and an excellent public speaker. The man is unstoppable, except if you pass a whiskey bar, he’ll definitely want to stop there.

 

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