Before I launch into this post, I want you to know that once upon time I was deeply immersed in business process design and business process re-engineering. I was process mapping in the late 80s before process mapping became a huge hit and became expert at it in the 90s.
You cannot excel at the Customer Experience game with a process mindset
I say process thinking occurs at one level of consciousness. I say the process mindset fixes one’s consciousness at the functional level: the level of work. Which means that the process mindset become permeated by mechanical/activity thinking and fixated with throughput, time taken, speed, cost, and efficiency.
What happens when the process mindset has infected the organisation? My experience is that the process mindset drives out humanity and all that goes with human beings: empathy, flexibility, creativity, adaptability, responsiveness to the unique human being, the unique situation.
What happens when you take process people and get them working on the Customer Experience? They inevitably focus on optimising the process: throughput, speed, efficiency, and standardisation. In such an organisation quality becomes adherence to the process/script/standard. What gets missed is that if you are playing the customer relationship-customer experience game then quality can only be measured in terms of quality of connection with the customer.
I say that if you want to excel at the game of Customer Experience then you have to transcend the process mindset. Why? I say that there is one level of consciousness associated with the process mindset. And another, different level associated with Customer Experience. Think in terms of an elevator that stops at different floors of consciousness. On one floor is the process mindset and all that goes with it. The Customer Experience mindset is on a different floor. You cannot be at both floors at the same time.
You object, you say that they are similar. To which I say that rugby and soccer do have similarities and yet are distinct games. And what makes for a winning combination in soccer does not make for a winning combination in rugby.
Example: from ‘Registrations’ to ‘Welcome to TelcoX’
Can you make dramatic improvements in the Customer Experience without changing the people, without doing lean to business processes, without changing the IT systems? Yes, you can. How? By operating from Customer Experience consciousness. Allow me to give you an example.
One of my friends, a Customer Experience professional, told me this story. His organisation was helping a telco to improve the customer’s experience at the very start of the customer journey: when the customer signs-up and has to be registered on the various systems so that he can use his mobile phone. What was the name of the team doing this work? Registrations. Makes perfect sense if you come from a process mindset. From a process mindset the job to be done is the job of registering the customer on the system.
What happens when you look at the world from a Customer Experience consciousness? You end up renaming the team Welcome to TelcoX (I am not at liberty to name the telco). Notice the difference? Stop and really notice the difference in emotional tone. Do you notice that Registrations is flat, devoid of emotion, generates a focus on the task? Do you notice that Welcome to TelcoX generates emotion? I bet you can even notice a difference between “Welcome to TelcoX” and “Welcome to TelcoX!”
“Welcome to TelcoX” is rich with meaning, with guidance, it orients attitude and calls forth a certain kind of behaviour whilst ruling out another class of behaviour. Do you notice that it taps into a human stereotype of welcoming guests to our home? What do we do when we welcome guests to our home? Do we simply register them? Let them in and hand them a drink? Or do we make sure we connect with them, show the right emotion, offer them a drink, get them a drink, introduce them to a guest they are likely to enjoy talking to, make sure they are comfortable. And then go and greet the next guest?
What else happens when you operate from this frame, the human frame of relationship? You ask yourself what is the equivalent in the telco world of welcoming your guests and getting them to the emotional state where they are comfortable at your home or party. This led to the folks at this telco realising that the end point of their interaction with the customer was not an account registered on the system. No, the end point was a happy customer who was up and running using his phone. This meant bringing additional work steps in the Welcome to TelcoX team; steps that had until then been in another team; steps that had caused problems for customers and driven customers to call in and getting them addressed.
By transcending the process mindset and operating at this human-empathic-storytelling level of consciousness, customer satisfaction rose, employee engagement rose, and the telco saved money by not having to take calls from dissatisfied customers ringing up to say that they could not use their phone. And asking for help. Notice, the telco did not have to undertake a culture change programme.
I say that one of the biggest hurdles to excellence in the game of Customer Experience is the process mindset which is endemic in large organisation. I say that it is a big mistake to hand over the Customer Experience to folks who are gripped through and through by the process mindset. I say that if you want to excel at the game of Customer Experience then you have to involve and listen to people who excel at the human game: the people who excel at empathy and have sound business sense.