CEOs – the guardians of productivity and business efficiency – could be the reason their organisations struggle to gain consistent and dynamic growth, if they prioritise smooth-running business practices over great customer experiences.
Customers are voting with their feet – and their loyalty – more than ever before, says Michiel Lely, vice-president: practices EMEA at Verint Systems, with consumer research done by Verint in nine countries showing that almost half of all consumers defect because of how brands engage with them.
“If it takes too much effort; if staff is unhelpful or if too many mistakes are made, 45% of customers will leave, regardless of pricing,” says Lely.
“Very simply, this means that the very processes designed by an executive to keep investors and auditors happy, may in fact deter consumers. We need to learn to build processes around our customers, which also keep investors happy.
“If business leaders could learn how to look at their organisations the way a customer did, they would probably identify more than a few hurdles they are forcing consumers through.”
Most companies are organised vertically in functional silos, says Lely, and customer information is stored at a variety of points of engagement.
The marketing department does therefore not always have easy access to customers’ credit information, for example, because the data is kept in separate departments.
“While there are many business reasons for organising processes vertically, it is important to keep in mind that this is not how customers engage with you,” he says.
Customers today demand more from brands than ever before. They want to be known and understood; they demand that the call centre agent has all their details at their fingertips, not hidden in another departmental silo. They insist on a faster, more personalised service that reflects them as a person, so you need to ensure the process is designed around the customer, not the company.”
The challenge for most organisations is that they have limited visibility into how tasks are completed and, similarly, many employees have little visibility of how things progress beyond their immediate purview. Even if they wanted to make changes to improve productivity and compliance, many employers don’t know where to start.
Employees are typically trained for a relatively short time, and then ‘let loose’ to carry out their tasks autonomously, says Lely.
“They are expected to follow a process. To ensure that they do, quality assurance processes are put in place to check between 3% and 5% of their work.
“However, a quality assurance process in isolation is not enough to manage behaviour and optimise customer engagement – some customers still leave, and customers will remain dissatisfied.”
By getting visibility into employee behaviour and execution, organisations are better placed to provide real-time guidance on the next best action employees need to take to serve customers better. It also means organisations can share best practice and deliver appropriate training if and when needed.
A variety of tools are available to manage employees’ behaviour by offering real-time guidance, task automation and scorecards for contact centre, back office and branch.
A desktop and process analytics system, for example, puts the organisation under the microscope and can help managers spot problem areas or inefficiencies. It gives employers the insight to understand how employees use applications to perform their work and the process they follow.
“The result will be the discovery of hidden workforce capacity.”
A second tier of intervention is the alignment of processes and the creation of access to data across all departments.
“It is vital that teams work as effectively as possible to deliver positive results and maintain high levels of compliance.,” says Lely. “Executives should get this right, and get it right quickly. It’s vital your teams are working as effectively as possible to deliver positive results, maintain high levels of compliance and improve customer experience.
“Ensuring processes are completed in a consistent and efficient manner helps improve both productivity and service.”