Customer satisfaction is a result of agility. Customers see service and product providers as one entity. They don’t care and don’t want to know how the company structured, what each department responsible for, and who they contact to inform about a problem. Customers expect a fast response that will resolve their problems. They don’t want to be forward to other people and departments. They expect the first person they contact to resolve their problems. From a customer point of view, all the above is not surprising. The paradox is that the same people who have certain expectations as customers have a different perspective on customer support when they are the product or service provider.
When it’s coming to company structure and decision making there nothing in place to support the expectation of customers. Companies have defined departments and groups with clear responsibilities and strict decision-making processes that require managerial approvals. Those two organization principles lead people in the organization to forward customers to other departments responsible for certain problems or to ask for managerial approval. Those principles make the customer unhappy.
Customer satisfaction is not just limited to the level of customer support, it is also impacted by products and services. The same root cause applies, separation of expertise and the need for managerial approval also impacting the product and service quality from the customer point of view.
Beside the hierarchical structure, every business process includes, and is based on, a network of interactions, impacts and flows that are crossing hierarchical boundaries. Those interlinks form the system that enables business processes success. Customer support and the development of products and services are not an exception.
No one expects companies to ask all of their employees to accept any request from a customer and own it, nor to give them the authority to decide by themselves (although personally I believe companies should follow those principles). Company, though, should find employees accountable for owning problems and give them authority to decide when it comes to interactions with customers.
The key to enable and find accountable the right people is a clear understanding of the network of interactions impacts and flows that are taking part of customer-related business processes. Once you gain this understanding, you’ll also find out inherit problems in the current system, which will enable you to resolve them and improve your customer satisfaction even further.
Some people believe that getting a better understanding of the customer by collecting data about customer needs and experience will improve overall customer satisfaction. This is one hundred percent right. Having more meaningful data will help any company improve customer satisfaction. But, having more data will not resolve systematic problems of structure and management. Those problems can be understood and resolved by collecting different types of data. Data about interactions, impacts and flows.
The alternative is to keep focusing on people and groups responsible for the parts of customer-related process. This is what companies are doing for the last ten or twenty years, yet with no real improvement of customers’ long-term satisfaction.
Galaxies created a framework that enable organizations to get a clear view of all the interlinks within an organization, common flaws they have, and how to resolve those flaws. We simplified our solution by providing management consulting services based on our framework.