Thursday, April 4th, 2019 | 6 min read
A few weeks ago, I joined a webinar with my friends at Sprinklr. Our goal was to discuss customer care while avoiding the platitudes about how important it may be, or its increasing convergence with marketing and sales in the age of the customer (as Forrester calls it). Instead, we drew on my earlier research work to offer a practical, strategic model for improving customer care.
During the webinar and in the weeks that followed, I received many questions about identifying the value of customer care – not simply as a reflection of customer experiences or journeys, but as an intrinsic part of the business transformation we are experiencing.
In my research, interviewed 124 customer care professionals to ask about their current and future, I found that the demands from customers are changing and that as those demands shift, and combine with the digital transformation initiatives ongoing at organizations, a new model is emerging. This new model is based on the idea that customer care is moving away from simply being a “necessary evil” cost center to a strategic initiative that can best be called the new operational excellence.
In this new operational excellence model, there are five areas that combine to offer a win-win scenario (where both customers and organization find value): customer-centricity, data-driven decisions, automation-focus, ecosystem-based, and outcomes-first (as in customer outcomes driving operations, not company outcomes as it traditionally is with outbound models). This yields a new business reality where customer care is strategic, and a case for value-building can be made.
I want to summarize that case here (and if you want more details, you can always listen to the entire webinar – it provides the story and a wealth of evidence in about 30 minutes).
What allowed Lemonade to turn the entire insurance industry upside down? Or McDonald’s to create more engaged and productive employees? Or KLM to reinvent its customer care model? The answer for all three is the same: a renewed, smarter approach to using data.
For the past decade, digital transformation has sparked tremendous changes in the enterprise. Much has been written (by me and by others) about the topic, so I won’t rehash it in detail here. Suffice it to say businesses are changing, and they need to be able to make management and boards understand just how important it is to harness a data-backed digital transformation strategy.
Once they have buy-in, there are three elements required at play to make this crucial change successful:
Until recently, most brands had control of customer relationships – that is, brands were able to communicate with consumers in many ways, while consumers were limited in their ability to engage with brands. The age of social media empowered customers to access more information and allowed them to connect online with people sharing similar interests. Connected and empowered like never, consumers are now more demanding than ever.
To meet this demand, brands must embrace a different infrastructure, one that allows them to let customers manage their own interactions as they see fit. In this new infrastructure, brands must provide the systems and information that allow each stakeholder (whether internal or external) to build any experiences they want, on their terms, that can be different each time as needed. The chart below showcases the different components of this infrastructure (and you can learn more about it on the webinar).
Cloud computing has changed the world of enterprise technology – and not just the technology. Open connections allowed for the emergence of new platforms and ecosystems that were impossible before, allowing new business models to thrive in the process. These new models leverage everything that cloud computing offers to the business world: simple connections and integration, solid security and trust, and infinite scalability.
Any business can be as nimble or as wide-reaching as it needs and deliver any experience – all at a moment’s notice. They can also find new ways to interact with customers – and, since we’re on the topic, establish models of care that were impossible just a few years ago. These important shifts are all driven by harnessing new platforms and ecosystems.
I recently introduced the new version of operational excellence – one that is driven by effectiveness, not efficiency. This new model for businesses requires a steady approach to transforming the enterprise, and is set on five principles: customer centricity, outcomes-first, data-driven, automation focused, and ecosystem-based (in keeping with the other two steps mentioned in this post).
This new model of operational excellence requires a careful adoption as a discipline – not a project-based approach – that is highly iterative and evolutionary, and it must follow a simple framework in order to work. This graphic highlight the framework:
What do you think? What did I miss? What else are you doing that can be used to prove this new value proposition?
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