Beyond cost-cutting, where does true efficiency lie?


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The word efficiency is everywhere these days, with digital businesses across industries looking to maximize efficiency and dramatically cut costs to stay ahead of market variability. But, it’s a fallacy to think that most organizations and groups will ‘become efficient’ simply because there is a mandate to do so. What they will do is ‘do less’ and what will be cut is ‘that which is easy to cut.’

But how do we measure efficiency? Technically speaking, being efficient or not is meaningless if businesses are not hitting our goals. Efficiency only makes sense in the service of achieving something and as digital leaders and teams, our goals should be to ensure customer delight. Initially this means minimizing customer friction, but the goal is to facilitate a state in which the users can flow through their journey (be it a money transfer, an online purchase, a flight change, you name it) smoothly and quickly.

As consumers become more reliant on digital tools and services, the pressure to enhance customer experiences has mounted. Companies think the rapid adoption of emerging tech like AI will quickly resolve efficiency issues, but without the proper guidance, these tools are actually taking up more time and resources. So, how can companies reduce business costs all while making sure their digital experiences satisfy their target audience and increase overall customer satisfaction?

The burden of outside opinions.

In my experience, both working at a top Wall Street investment bank and a digital analytics firm, building and running customer centric practices, I can tell you organizations today have no shortage of ‘issues’ to tackle and the influx and democratization of data we face today is only making customer centric practices more difficult. Everyone can have an opinion on the needs of digital customers, distracting teams from efforts that could have the biggest impact on the customer and their business.

The average digital team is actually wasting up to two months a year on escalations that have no clear or direct impact. This type of inefficiency could mean businesses are leaving a lot of money on the table, with digital leaders reporting that just a 25% improvement in efficiency could save them up to $100K, and a 75% improvement could save them up to $1M.

Find your North Star.

So if our goal is something as simple as achieving customer delight, why is it so hard for teams to be efficient? Many times businesses are lacking a true North Star, which results in a lack of direction on where to focus. It’s no surprise that one in 10 digital leaders don’t believe their teams are working on the right things, but what’s more surprising is that business leaders are aware of gaps in their digital strategies and yet still struggle to achieve efficiency.

Part of the solution here includes the need for eyes on the experience of the end user, the ability to understand if it’s a good or bad experience, and ultimately its impact on the business. But what commonly happens, especially with large competitive organizations that are betting heavily on digital, is there is no common language and no consensus on what is impacting users the most.

In an ideal world with unlimited resources we start doing all the fixes and optimizations that our current systems allow us to do simultaneously, but in reality, and more so today with the push for efficiency, the key is to know what to do with the limited resources we have. What solutions will have the most impact today? From there, we make that change, measure it, establish the ROI of the effort, celebrate it, and move on to the next one.

Building cycles of innovation.

As we do this, we open the door for the most important part: when instead of reacting to user friction because things are broken or glaringly wrong, we start working on optimizing the user experience. This is where we find true efficiency and really where digital organizations find their competitive edge, because they start building cycles that enable them to innovate ahead of expectations. Today ‘working as intended’ is not enough, digital users expect to be surprised and delighted by their digital experience.

The most staggering stat from our report? The fact that 74% of digital leaders say some if not all of their planned innovations for improving customer experience have been pushed off due to outside escalations from executives, VoC, social media and others that have monopolized their resources. This is what makes digital stagnant and, what causes customers to want to hop from brand to brand looking for the best deal.

In the end, efficiency isn’t just about cost savings, navigating tighter budgets or improving productivity, it’s about the customer. Today, in this competitive environment, the organizations that win are the ones that understand their customers are the biggest assets they have, and they work with one thing in mind: the delight of those customers.

Francis Cordón
Francis Cordón is the SVP of Customer Success for Quantum Metric, carrying 25+ years of experience in the customer experience space. He has worked with vendors like Dynatrace and Turbonomic to help customers with digital transformation. Francis was also the Chief Performance Architect of BNY Mellon where he managed 20 vendor investments and generated the highest ROI for digital experience in recent years.


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