Design the business for customers and organisation

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Businesses are not designed but evolve over time based on needs and internal and external drivers. The lack of “design” becomes evident when a business innovation or outside perspectives – like customer experience – need to be understood and anchored within an organisation. There is a strong tendency to redesign the organisation, instead of designing the business to attract and support customers.

Design businesses from a customer experience perspective
Businesses standardise their procedures, processes and systems in order to act and react better and faster. When taking an outside perspective on a business, the inconsistencies and misalignments become very evident. A design that informs and guides a business from a customer experience perspective is powerful way to align an organisation to reach its objectives.

Actors and factors that influence customers
Businesses often act on the way their customers are responding and behaving. The customer experience however is heavily influenced by external actors and factors beyond the control of any one business.

Governments can intervene directly into a market and change customer behaviour. This happened recently in the automotive, mobile and financial services. Factors such as new entrants into the market, technology and service innovations can change the preferences of customers. Understanding the big picture of customer behaviour enables businesses to invest in the areas where they can impact the experience, differentiate and grow.

Organisationalimpact_02 Finding the cause of service breakdowns is only the first step. It requires multiple departments and stakeholders to go beyond ‘fixing’ the problem towards preventing the problem.

Understand the impact on the organisation
New initiatives and changes in the market or business all impact the business in some way. Understanding the effects on processes, policies or systems enables the organisation to design solutions around these challenges or completely eliminate them. The lack of these insights makes initiatives and projects hit organisational walls. Clarity of purpose and objectives helps balance trade-offs and priorities and stimulates new and innovative solutions.

Make customers “live” within the organisation
Relatively few people in an organisation deal with customers directly. Conversely, there are many people and departments that speak for and represent the customer. Closer examination reveals that this often means their internal customer. Bringing real customers and their experiences into an organisation has surprising effects. Organisational awareness of customers’ experiences offers the business a consistent direction to base decisions on.

80% of big companies described themselves as delivering superior service, but only 8% of their customers agreed.

Create internal abilities around customers
Customers are often confronted by people, processes and systems that seem to conspire to make it difficult to deal with a business. This feeling is often shared by front-stage and back-stage staff. Being able to align an organisation around abilities that serve both customers and the organisation offers many benefits but is hard to achieve. It is important to develop abilities such as proper customer onboarding or proactive engagement, by designing and piloting them with customers and staff in real business settings.

Use the outside perspective for internal alignment
Customers have clear expectations from the products and services that they are paying for. In some sectors, meeting the basic needs and wants of customers is already beating the market. The challenge and opportunity is to align external expectations with internal silos and misalignment.

Once “how does this impact our customers’ experience” becomes part of the decision making process at department and management level, organisations have a strong reference point that transcends organisational silos. However, without the translation of the customer experience to what it means for the organisation, the target experience remains aspirational instead of goal setting.

Enable the business to offer customers a better experience
Understanding the customer experience is a powerful way to facilitate internal decision making and alignment for its bottom-line effects. Organisations who use customers as the main reference point can design offers and solutions that have break-through impact on their business. Moreover, offering a good customer experience is a competitive advantage that is hard to beat, or replicate by competitors.

Services from customers’ perspective Focusing on reducing cycle time and reducing product defects can have surprising little effect on customers’ experience. Common reasons for experience breakdowns include: complex procedures, unclear communication, lack of relevant information and ill-timed updates. Designing services from the outside gives customers what they need and enables organisations to deliver on their promises.
Services from customers’ perspective
Focusing on reducing cycle time and reducing product defects can have surprising little effect on customers’ experience. Common reasons for experience breakdowns include: complex procedures, unclear communication, lack of relevant information and ill-timed updates. Designing services from the outside gives customers what they need and enables organisations to deliver on their promises.
Melvin Brand Flu
Melvin Brand Flu is an author, business, and strategy consultant with over 30 years of experience working for startups to global brands and governments. He advises management and leads projects on the cutting edge of business and technical innovation in industries ranging from telecommunication and financial services to the public sector and insurance.

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