Whose problem are you solving?

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I’ve written about Customer Effort Score (CES) before and kind of chided the intractability of defining it specifically.  Of course, it’s not fair to pick on CES, as I’ve written in other instances, even common definitions like First Contact Resolution runs into definitional problems when they encounter actual Customer opinions (we all have our own definitions).

But specifically, when it comes to Effort (or, as I sometimes will call it, “hassle”), I remember a wise Process Engineer who used to work for me once noted:  “we’re defining ‘hassle’ from our own perspective.”  And he was correct to point it out in that instance.  I wonder:  Are you doing the same?

One of the great philosophical approaches to CX is to endeavor to reduce effort or hassle for our Customers.  In the end, our products or services cost what they cost, deliver what they deliver, and last as long as they do.  But one thing we can focus on (and from thus was born the concept of the Customer Effort Score in the first place) is simply making it easier to work with us.

Delivering on that goal requires a lot of work, but even before you get to doing stuff to make it happen, it requires taking the perspective of the Customer in the first place.  All too often we consider our processes from the perspective of our own steps in them rather than what our Customers have to go through to navigate them.  Sure, we can look at improving how we work if it’ll make things easier for us.  But how often do we prioritize these efforts in order to make things more smooth for our Customers?

It may sound like a harsh way to put it, but think about it this way: none of your Customers care (other than the fact that surely some of them are nice, empathetic people) if it’s a pain for you to go through your processes.  That’s your job!  By all means, make your own job easier if it means that you can accomplish things (for your Customers!) quicker and leave your Customers waiting much less.  Eliminate steps if they’re not adding value (for your Customers!) and taking up time and resources.  Get new tools, and better empower your front-line folks to leverage them…so they can better serve your Customers.  See where I’m going here?  The ultimate goal of any of these efforts shouldn’t be to make your life easier, but rather those of your Customers’.  Don’t worry, it’ll be easier on you to streamline your own processes, but if it doesn’t positively impact your Customers, what was the point?

One place this perspective lurks and keeps getting missed can be in your metrics.  Take a look at your operational dashboard and ask whether all the measures being tracked are linked in some way (and in what way) to your Customers’ experiences.  Are they only tangential?  Are they only tied to your cost?  Can you draw a straight line (with very few steps!) between the internal metrics you’re following and holding your teams to on one side, and the satisfaction of your Customers on the other?  Misleading metrics here can lead you to believe that you’re improving things from the wrong perspective.  Some of those improvements may eventually find a way of rolling downhill and positively impacting your Customers’ experiences, but why take the chance?  Why not just make them the priority in the first place?

It’s that age-old win-win approach to melding Process Engineering with Customer Experience:  You’ll surely benefit yourself with better and more efficient processes, however you prioritize the pool of potential improvement opportunities.  But you’ll miss out on even more impactful improvements if your driving goal is simply to make your own life easier.  Prioritizing what inconveniences your Customers won’t mean things won’t get better for you; it’ll just mean your Customers will appreciate it more.

We get pretty comfortable thinking about our own processes, and even things like Change Management center on how we can learn to accept the need to do things differently for the good of the team.  But there’s a step even before you get there that entails putting yourself in the shoes of your Customers and prioritizing the initiatives you’re interested in pursuing on behalf of the Customers, not yourself.

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