How Great Customer Experience Affects Efficiency

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] So you think providing a great customer experience is going to cost your business more for sure - more time, more people and more money, right? Wrong. Working with your customers to improve their service experience can be a great source for uncovering ways to improve efficiency in your operations.

I was reminded of this the other day after listening to a friend recount an experience she had with a large Australian airline. After booking a flight online, her confirmation and tax invoice didn’t arrive in her inbox. She described trying to find out what to do about it on the airline’s website as “being sent down the rabbit hole”. To make matters worse, after finally finding the correct email address and sending off a request for the information, she received a reply telling her to send an email to somewhere else. This included a list of the things she would need to provide to have the request completed, all of which she had included already.

Annoying for her as a customer? Yes. Impacting her customer experience? Yes. Wasting her time? Yes. Wasting the airline’s time. Yes.

Improving this customer experience issue could clearly result in process improvement, efficiency gains and one would assume, cost savings. You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon* to see it. It would be a typical Lean improvement waiting to be implemented:

  • Send the customer query directly off to the correct department, rather than emailing her back and having her do it herself.
  • Better yet, ensure staff have the ability to fix these problems at first point of contact, even if it’s the wrong person. Avoid doubling up and hand-balling.
  • Or even get the email to go to the right place in the first instance.
  • Crazier still, have something available to the customer that enables her to self-serve and avoid contact all together.
  • Or at the very heart of it, fix whatever glitch in the system caused the issue to begin with.

You will see customer experiences like this one linked to internal inefficiency everywhere you go. Just the other day I contacted my hosting provider for the fifth time about a credit card error at payment. Add up the time they’ve spent with me on this and your looking at about four hours. Each time they have been super helpful, polite, friendly and I love not having to get on the phone.They put the payment through for me, but not once has someone attempted to fix the underlying issue and avoid my calls all together. A major annoyance for me, but if this is how they are operating their business, you wonder how much money is going down the gurgler.

In my experience working on clients’ service design projects, process inefficiencies become quickly apparent when mapping the customer journey and examining its organisational flip side. Of course there are other methods for looking at efficiency and process improvement, but the difference with and benefit of using service design is that you actually learn which inefficiencies matter to your customers. The customer is often a part of the puzzle that goes missing when looking at efficiency, but they should be just as important as time and dollars saved.

The other important puzzle piece is staff. Service design, unlike straight customer experience work, looks at the organisational side of a problem as well as the customer side. It’s one thing to understand what the customer wants and needs, but what is enabling the organisation to act on those needs? This often links to efficiency.

I’ll never forget a contextual observation I did in a call centre where I sat with customer service rep. I watched as she ducked and weaved in and out of the three different systems she needed to use for a single customer query. Not only did it make her job difficult, but she would intentionally make small talk and stall the progress of the interaction to give herself time to do what she needed to do. If you have ever worked in the call centre game, you will know that every second is money. And you know as a customer, that every extra second you spend on hold to a call centre, is a second better spent somewhere else.

So as you can see in so many cases, customer experience and efficiency can be inextricably linked. And that is a great thing. Improving one is great for your business. Improving both is fantastic. Most companies will have any myriad of improvement initiatives that they need to implement – wouldn’t it be better the ones you select also improve things for your customer?

*Rocket surgeon: the supreme combination of rocket scientist mixed with brain surgeon.

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If you'd like to know more about how we can help you use service design to improve customer experience, process efficiency or both, please get in touch. We'd love to chat.

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