As we enter the uncharted waters post Brexit, no matter which way you voted, businesses are facing uncertainty. They will be taking stock of their positions and operations as well as looking to make their businesses more efficient and to further streamline their processes. We will all be looking to protect ourselves in an environment of instability, financial pressures and the need to further manage the cost base.
It is a natural thing to do and something we are all pretty well versed in.
However, this time around there is a very significant danger that we must all take into consideration as the rules of customer engagement have changed. We are now judged on what we do and not what we say we are going to do, so customer experience must also be protected. This is critical, if we ignore it our customers will just go elsewhere and find other brands to meet their needs.
We must also think about our people, who day in, day out deliver our experience to our customers, and who have had to work with processes designed for the old era and not the new, instantly informed customer. If we just “improve” the way we work in the narrow band of a silo, we create issues further down the line for colleagues and customers alike.
We must look at a different way forward, one that represents a real opportunity to deliver a genuine win/win for businesses.
The improvement of operational efficiency, aligned to the delivery of a truly engaging and brand aligned customer experience represents a new approach to delivering both savings and protecting the ability of the business to create customer loyalty. The key is to make sure that the brand is used as the lens through which to envision the improvement of any process, genuinely putting the customer at the heart of it and enabling our people to give the sort of service that they have longed to be empowered to give.
The same is true of the 3rd party providers, who we have engaged to get costs off the balance sheet. All too often we have outsourced our responsibility for our brand at critical moments in our customer experience and seek to control these with KPIs within an SLA that does nothing to enhance our brand. For example, a decision made 10 or so years ago by the legacy airlines means that they have outsourced ticket sales and ground handling to such an extent that they have no contact with their customers until they board the plane! How can you add value and delight when that is the case?
I would suggest that we should look at process improvement from a different angle and in the round rather than in a specific business silo. The brand and its vision can be the lens that when applied brings the customer to the heart of that interaction and empowers people to deliver great experiences, whilst responsibly improving the economic performance of the business.
This would produce brand enhanced customer experience process improvement and is the win/win position I mentioned earlier.
Imagine, if you dare, peace breaking out between operations and the brand teams all in the pursuit of a common goal, an irresistible customer experience. Who knows... it might even help legacy businesses compete effectively against the new disrupters in their market space.