The last few weeks have been shocking and surreal! Yet, we are quickly realising that despite the disruption in how we work and live, we must get on with business and continue to deliver for our most important stakeholders – our customers.
Because, as many businesses are realising through no fault of their own, paying customers are the lifeblood of every business and can never be taken for granted.
But, let’s face it. Large numbers of the services we use are sub-standard. Suppliers make us jump through unnecessary hoops and expect us to do things they should do for us, making their problems our problems and increasing our stress levels by making everyday tasks much harder than they should be.
These things happen because businesses don't spend adequate thought and time designing service in the same way we do physical products. Too often, services happen by accident.
The services we use every day, from credit cards to health care to travel bookings (sadly, not at this time) are unlikely to be the result of conscious decisions of teams within organisations. Instead, they are more likely to be the result of the available technology, the strongest voice in new product development meetings or the personal tastes of the design or management team.
Bad services cause all types of negative flow-on effects. They cause a business to spend more money than they should servicing (and re-servicing) customers and they cause negative outcomes for users – often on a mass scale. But unlike a physical product that really has to work before it leaves the factory, a service can be launched and used by customers and not work that well for years. Why? Because it is difficult for a business to identify the root cause of the problem and solve it so the service works as originally intended.
A UK study of over 10,000 government services found that 60 per cent of the cost of the service was service failure. This resulted in phone calls to contact centres, rework on submissions and forms filled out incorrectly because the instructions weren’t clear.
Only yesterday, I received a text from the Australian Government with advice regarding the coronavirus. The intention was good, however when you clicked the link, there were no instructions, it was too wordy and gave me no idea where to go or what to do next. The result? A frustrated recipient, time wasted clicking any link that looks like it could work and the potential for an unnecessary call to an already stretched public service line.
If you work in business rather than the government, don't feel complacent! Most medium to large organisations regularly inflicts the same type of experience on their customers with the result that they suffer the same frustration. More often than not, nobody has ever really thought through what it feels like for a customer as they walk the end-to-end customer journey.
So, what can you do? Here are 4 things that will deliver a better service experience to your customers at a time when making things easier is even more vitally important than ever.
- Make whatever a customer wants to do with you easy. Provide clear steps and support to help them achieve it with minimal effort on their part.
- Reframe your service as, 'something you provide to help customers solve a problem or undertake a job or activity' so they can get on with their life. (see this HBR article on Jobs to be Done - JTBD for more detail on this powerful concept).
- Ensure when your customers are engaging with you, they are able to achieve the task they have set out to do, without needing to navigate the convoluted internal structure of your business.
- Review whether your internal KPI’s are driving behaviours that work against the customer because they are geared to make it easier for staff.
Spend a minute or two asking yourself “Is our brand/product/service doing these things?” If you can say, hand on heart, “Yes, we are doing all that and I know because we asked our customers and they confirmed it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.” that’s great news.
If not, start with our first suggestion and begin working your way through all of your interactions with your customers. If it all becomes overwhelming, which it quite often can, feel free to make contact. We’ve been doing this for 12 years now and can help you identify the right levers to pull and in what order to re-ignite growth for your organisation.