Thinking

Don’t run before you can walk: Build an understanding of your customers as a precursor to achieving a single view

“I’m transferring you to my colleague in a different department, as I’m unable to help you”; 25 minutes later, you’ve repeated yourself to six different advisors and still have no understanding why you’ve been billed for products you never signed up to...  Does this sound like a familiar experience for you or your customers?

“I’m transferring you to my colleague in a different department, as I’m unable to help you”; 25 minutes later, you’ve repeated yourself to six different advisors and still have no understanding why you’ve been billed for products you never signed up to... 

Does this sound like a familiar experience for you or your customers?

The business impact of not having a single view of the customer spans wider than losing customers and failing to hit customer satisfaction, net promoter score, retention and revenue targets. In fact, as well as impacting their costs, it can negatively affect the culture of the company and the experience of their employees.

    • Company Culture:  Lack of alignment and collaboration betweens functions drives the wrong culture and behaviours as teams operate individually with little understanding of the bigger picture of both the company’s vision and the customer.  Companies who are organised traditionally by department, and functions operating in silo’s, are at risk of viewing the customer only in relation to their own team’s visions and targets; reducing their ability to view the customer from all sides. This risk is even higher for companies offering both B2C and B2B products as customers can be tagged as either a consumer or business, whilst in reality they purchase both products.  
    • Employee Experience: The role of front line staff is to be able to assist, serve and solve their customer’s problem. A lack of a single view of the customer, results in employees not being fully equipped to deal with satisfying their customer needs and instead are having to  face angry, frustrated and annoyed customers. This, in turn, negatively impacts team morale and staff wellbeing. 
    • Increased costs: Attracting new customers can cost companies up to seven times more than the cost of retaining their existing customers. However, on average, most companies are investing more time and resources into acquisition of new customers. Instead, using that investment to improve retention by driving insight from customer data would build upon the loyalty and advocacy of current customers, to increase revenue in a more efficient way'.

The majority of clients I’ve worked with over the years, have jumped to the conclusion that a technology solution is the silver bullet, yet haven’t even considered who their customers really are and what experience they have. By taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, you can start doing things immediately to understand your customers and identify low cost, quick to implement improvements. The following tips will help to build foundations, as you decide if a technology transformation programme is needed, without making disruptions to the business.  

Customer vision leadership alignment 

Does your company have a unified vision for customers? Is this known by and embraced by all levels of the company? 

By first understanding what the business vision is for your customers, you can then create a vision tree - breaking down the vision into objectives for different departments and ultimately linking these to team key performance indicators. This will then enable front line staff to relate their business as usual activities to the company-wide vision and allow transparency around the ‘bigger picture’. This, in turn, encourages team collaboration as everyone works together to achieve the same goal.

Understand who your customers are and their end to end journey

Does your marketing manager know when your customer receives their bill following purchase? Does your sales advisor know what happens when a customer calls in to complain? 

Creating customer personas, empathy maps and end to end customer journeys can allow you to educate and create awareness in your teams of who your customers are, what their end to end journey looks like, and which emotions they experience towards the company during this journey. By putting front line teams in the shoes of the customer, this will help them understand and see the customer from different points of view. 

Review business processes

How long does it take to process an order? Are all the steps required or are they just there because “it’s always been done this way”? 

A good rule of thumb is that processes are generally made up of 5-10% value add, 15-30% essential non-value add and 60-80% non-value add activity. This means that the majority of your team’s time is spent on activity which isn’t benefiting the customers or driving value for the company.  Acting to increase company value with no increase in customer value is just eroding the customer-value proposition, which decreases the organisation's competitiveness over the long-term. Iterative analysis of as-is processes will enable you to gradually improve process efficiency and reduce time spent on activity that isn’t adding value to you customers. Start by choosing the most common ‘happy’ path at the highest level and analyse the process end to end, down to the level of detail needed to provide insight on pain-points and opportunities for improvements. 

Once you have a clear understanding of your customers, their experience with your company and emotions they feel, you can start to dissect the wealth of customer data available and decide how it is best intelligently connected, towards creating a better view of your customer. 

With the increasing importance of CX and ever-rising demands of the incoming generation of customers, having a single view of the customer is the aspiration. However companies aren’t able to achieve this all at once as it will require heavy investment and time from key stakeholders as; centralisation and collation of data is complex, technology challenges are often a blocker, and operational costs can be high. Much of the value can be achieved during progress towards a 360 degree view, so start asking your colleagues, ‘Will a 100, 180 or 250 degree view drive most value for the business? How can we gain incremental benefits? What else is needed beyond technology?