Are you experiencing Bottleneck Syndrome?
In my work helping organisations create high performing customer centric cultures I am continually struck by two things.
1. What a great set of products and services they have to offer. Once I get ‘under the bonnet’ and understand that is. Really good, customer-focused offerings that are built on many hours of highly specialised creativity, knowhow and insight and that genuinely make a difference to a customer’s experience
2. How hard it seems to be to communicate that set of products and services in a way that is quick, relevant and easy for the customer to understand. Customer facing staff are expected to master the detailed features and benefits of a wide range of sophisticated products whilst juggling multiple screens and data sources whilst being aware of competitor offerings whilst remaining customer focused and applying good commercial acumen in order to have brilliant but effective and compliant conversations. All day, every day with ongoing change and updates in all the above areas.
Survey after survey highlight the poor service experience most of us still have, despite the £millions spent on customer experience. A really good experience is like an oasis and renews our faith that it doesn’t have to be so painful.
The organisational conundrum is that everybody is trying to make a difference and achieve their objectives. The problem is they are trying to make that difference through a crowded space via a bottleneck to the front line. It leads to good ideas and initiatives being poorly executed and therefore not landing as they should, resulting in confusion/frustration/cynicism and reinforcing a blame culture.
So what’s to be done?
In my experience there are 3 building blocks to transforming this.
1. Ask people at the front line what it’s like to do the job at the moment
Then listen, understand and agree with them what will be done to make life easier. All too often the leaders or change agents in the organisation are so far away from the actual customer experience that they lose touch. This front-line feedback provides a base understanding that informs the next steps. It always throws up new insights and raises awareness of how things actually are as opposed to how we think they are.
Whilst in dialogue give staff the same context the boardroom have in terms of strategic direction, new market challenges and changing customer needs. Customer facing staff are invariably full of good creative ideas that can help simplify and improve things.
2. Put people and customers at the heart of any change
Get any department planning a change to really consider the question ‘How will this change impact on our people’s ability to serve the customer and on their daily experience?’ In the same way that we prioritise the customer experience we need to prioritise the people experience.
Involving people in this question increases curiosity and it becomes easier to build stronger understanding and engagement across the organisation. It seems simple enough so why don’t we do it all the time? The simple answer is that we are generally too busy ‘doing the day job’, whatever that is!
3. Build stronger collaboration between departments.
It can feel like a battle ground of silos where IT, propositions, operations, sales, compliance, L&D and business change are jostling for position and are mostly frustrated.
Organise departments to collaborate with each other. The silo mentality is the enemy of cross functional working so often it needs a fresh start to the relationship to create shared purpose, identify WIN WINs and renew motivation.
Its not rocket science. But lift off can be challenging.
It is easy to describe these things but difficult to change them. It can feel like there is too little time/energy, people are too entrenched in their position/perception, it’s not directly what people are goaled on and paid for. Which is why some organisations create an executive to direct customer and/or people experience – a role that cuts through the organisational silos.
In Pecan we call this type of transformation ‘Flipping your focus’. Moving the attention away from the organisational silo and hierarchy and focusing on the customer and those who serve them. Those organisations that operate in this way are successful because they are orientated to their true purpose and therefore more enabled to achieve it