Customer Experience Management – Thinking Inside The Box

When we as an industry discuss the customer experience, an awful lot of work goes into the outward-facing part of the discipline.

Particularly, as in some organizations, CX initiatives seem to have been adopted first by marketing and very specifically as an extension of website and digital marketing efforts, before being joined up to customer support and the back office.

However, have you ever played The Tea Game? We were introduced to it here at Tahzoo a while ago as a technique to demonstrate how customers see an organizations processes.

Basically the tea game has a group of people split into four teams, each trying to complete the task of making tea—getting the water, tea bags, cups (etc). The facilitators of the game play the roles of the vendors of each component and they implement rules that basically give the runaround to the teams trying to make the tea, queuing at each station trying to comply.

Completing a task requires repeat visits to each station to fulfill (frustrating!) tasks that quickly become clear are only of value to the vendors. If you have ever had the opportunity to play the game I don’t think this is a spoiler: the game is intended to be impossible, you either run out of time or money and no tea gets made.

Aside from being surprisingly fun, the game underlines that in order to provide a great customer experience the system of the business needs to be optimized.

When I say “the system of the business” I mean in the oldest of old school definitions, the way our organizations work and interact (the people and processes), not the computer “systems” that merely automate those processes.

Such processes are often derived from a tangle of well meaning or legal governance. Others come from “we’ve always done it like that” legacy processes and policies that have more to do with the internal mechanism of the organization than the task the customer is trying to complete.

I rather like the analogy used by Adam Toporek (customer experience strategist & author) who suggests that organizations treat policies like plaque. We at Tahzoo talk about creating “frictionless experiences” in that every small efficiency, every second saved, makes a huge difference for your customer and chipping way at this “plaque” is your goal.

So where do you start?

Well the customer also has a process; a process you can discover through customer journey mapping.  Through understanding that journey and then testing how your organization attends to each customer interaction along the way you can zero into those areas that are slowing the customer down. You are finding the areas where your organization (or the system of the business) is effectively getting in the way.

And back to my point at the start of this post—about the focus of CX often being on optimizing the outward facing part of the discipline (tinkering with websites, email campaigns, social media and customer databases).

This focus on software, data and maybe even my personal passion—content—only enables organizations to communicate these wonky internal processes faster, highlighting the bumps in the road of the customer journey and the weaknesses in the “system of the business”.

For example – fairly recently I had the Seinfeld car rental experience (I had a reservation, but they had no cars). I tweeted about it and got a great response from the rental company’s social team. They clearly had great tools, people in place embracing the new digital customer communication channels, but they were not empowered by the system of the business and couldn’t change their lack of cars and therefore help me. (You can read more about that story here on CMSWire).

To improve customer experience, the changes needed often have more to do with the internal mechanism of the business; the people, policies, organization and processes.

That’s thinking inside the box.

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