Categories
Agile customer experience

M&A or Stress Test your existing business – How to bring businesses together to create value

M&A or Stress Test your existing business – How to bring businesses together to create value

A lot of M&A activity tends to focus on legal and financial aspects but equally important are the operational and commercial elements, as they often show where the businesses can add value / improve efficiency and effectiveness by coming together (integrating) as little or as much as you believe will create value.

We have conducted many of these due diligence activities over the last few years (both face to face and virtually) and whilst our approach is generally the same, our expertise, findings and outputs are all bespoke to the situation. I thought it would be useful to show our approach and the benefits. This approach can also be used to stress test an existing business to help build a strategic plan for improvements or identify opportunities for revenue growth. 

What approach do we take?

  • We start with a kick-off meeting to understand more about the companies involved and objectives – this will help us to decide where / what we want to see and who we want to meet. We also agree the approach and messaging to stakeholders to maintain confidence (if required)
  • We request information (which we walk through also) – this will be adapted dependent on the organisation we are looking at – e.g. is it multi-site, how do they serve customers, how many years have they been operating etc. The request can be extensive for businesses with high volumes of customer contact, operational activities or customer interactions
  • We begin our stakeholder process (remote or on site) – conducting interviews with agreed colleagues from executives to operational leaders to ascertain insights into the proposition, the processes, people and organisational design, and the priorities – we do this in order to gain insights into how the business currently operates, the future strategy and plans and evaluate alignment or differences between peers, or colleagues within the organisation. Often the stakeholder process also includes interviews with clients, prospects, lapsed clients and partners too.
  • We attend sites and sit with colleagues to find out more about the organisation – getting a feel for how an organisation uses its buildings and runs its operations is insightful. We know what to look out for! We also use a question framework with front line colleagues and first line team leaders which supports the stakeholder interview process.

How does the approach add value?

It is important to have an experienced team leading any activity.  We use practitioners, (people who have run/led businesses and functions) and bring specialists in where required to use their more specific skills to review and interpret information and suggest improvements. This could involve workforce planning expertise (where there are contact centres to consider) and commercial contracting expertise (to review contracts commercially as opposed to legally). The team have well-honed skills in questioning and interpretation to get to what we need at pace.

Importantly, Custerian bring together what we see, hear and can evidence through data and insights and then align this to objectives / priorities and create actionable outputs. This adds another dimension that supports integration planning that many may not consider.

The other way we add value is by working closely with other partners such as legal and financial. By partners sharing key thoughts and risks / issues identified and agreeing the impact, you can really help to inform any offer made or for stress testing, ensure financial targets are achievable and then measured appropriately.

How quickly can this be done?

We have developed draft reports within a 3 – 4 week period for medium sized companies. This tends to be a requirement of due diligence activity, as often Letters if Intent (LOI) as issued with a 30-day window. For stress testing it is actually also useful to conduct the work at pace and then continue this into action planning whilst the momentum is there to deliver.

What kinds of things are considered in the approach?

We have delivered outputs incorporating views on many things. Here are just a few:

  • Commercial risks & opportunities
  • Efficiency & effectiveness of operations
  • Colleague engagement
  • Organisational design
  • Transformation capability and opportunities
  • Technology risks, issues and opportunities

We would also outline the priorities and roadmaps to improve and create further value and can even offer additional solution design if required to get the process of improvements and value creation moving!

The Top 4 benefits of our involvement summarised:

  • You get to understand more of the ‘how’ the business operates as opposed to what the financials say
  • You obtain valuable insights from your clients, prospects, and lapsed clients and partners about your proposition, processes, people and priorities
  • You gain a wider perspective from colleagues, a feel for the culture of the organisation(s), where challenges may lie, or opportunities exist to create better aligned organisations – that can be used to inform integration or business improvement planning
  • You gain roadmaps and prioritisation plans for improvement that you can pick up and start to work on now, with your own teams or with some ‘kick start’ support – especially for stress testing

It would be great to hear of any other thoughts you have in relation to this activity and if you would like to chat, please do get in touch via – beverley@custerian.com or simon@custerian.com

 

Beverley StagCusterian Outcome Creation Specialist 

Categories
Agile customer experience

Changes Done, Well

Change Done, Well

Changes Done Well Custerian

We all experienced (been involved in, or seen) changes that have worked, but often we have seen change done badly (we tend to remember those well) and those are the ones we tend to remember.

Change is a given, a bit like death and taxes, but now the PACE is unprecedented – it’s like a roller coaster of a life time

I often hear people saying well change is a constant, so we just have to embrace it and get on with it, that is certainly true of the last 7 months, however often we are really just adapting to changes that are happening rather than driving it or embracing it.

This is true often in work life and our personal lives. Most people don’t like change, as they want to do what they have always done, it feels safer and so on …. we have all read the book on the ‘emotions’ that people go through during change.

There are a few personality types that thrive on change, but that doesn’t mean they are all great at getting change done well – you have the idea makers (lots of different ideas (scope creep), the planners and updaters (they love excel, to do lists) and the deliverers (who just want to get on and do it, hate all the talk, let’s just crack on).

Leading Significant Change is not for the faint hearted – as you have to be designer, negotiator, counsellor, planner, coach, auditor, communicator, motivator.

Covid created a ‘Burning platform’ – but it doesn’t necessarily mean it was done well.


Recently through discussions with various business leaders I have heard stories about how at the start of Covid there were significant challenges that had to be overcome, quickly and
that the teams: rallied together; were creative; focussed; resilient and got the tasks in hand done with a huge sense of pride.

From setting up homeworking, getting premises changes made, ramping up resources – for those businesses who have thrived (eg. online, distribution, food).

However, some of this now needs to be reviewed, as part of the future operating model not just a ‘temp fix’ – there are conversations about how inefficient or too costly some of these solutions may have been, or that for some it’s not sustainable.

Digital leaders – this put them on a pedestal – this became the only channel or the ‘promoted channel (not always best for the customer) this had a huge step up in focus. Many digital projects fast tracked and delivered from concept to production in a matter of weeks, some of which had been fighting for attention for months, even years.

So why don’t changes get done? Or done well?

In my personal experience, and our teams experience when working with companies whether that be for kick starting an existing change, or a new change there are many reasons as to why change fails from: cultural; leadership; governance; lack of focus; resources; skillsets; inadequate support, too complex, and many more.

However based on a recent poll that I did: 50% said this was due to inadequate change leadership; 25% due to the Purpose and Outcomes not being clear; 17% poor planning, 8% due to lack of engagement or support.

Adapting something should be simple, and often is, little adaptions feel easier. Changing is much more challenging but not impossible – often we make the change impossible


Change should be delivered with PACE, and this is not about the methodology you are using, which could be agile, prince and other methods. Using PACE framework is at the start, throughout and the end of change – ensuring that you have done this with PACE.

So, I will explain a bit more about this.

Custerian 4 P's approach

Purpose – creating a clear sense of why we are doing something – it’s about creating understand (if we understand it, we will get it quicker) – the reasons as to WHY we need to change. What’s the problem / opportunity? What do you want to achieve (objectives/outcomes), how would you describe once you have achieved it (Vision).

Agility – often mistaken for getting on with something quickly. That isn’t what working with agility is about. That would be like saying right we need to run ….. setting off running before you heard the end of the brief ! You still need a clear purpose, the journey of how you are going to get from A to D (depending on the change, this doesn’t always need a detailed line by line plan), break it down into bite sized chunks of time (so in the next 2-3 weeks we need to), and then having the ability to quickly react, adapt and evolve in response to circumstances – which maybe a business need, the effects of part of the change, or user research.

Contribution – three things are important about contribution.

1. Change Lead/Owner – at the outset it is important to define who is the change owner, some companies are calling this a Product Owner – this is the person who is accountable for making the change happen – they are there to who is going to give support, break down the barriers, galvanise the team. They are the Change Lead and Champion, typically there are less than 10% of people in businesses who can fulfil this role – this isn’t the project manager! Someone with a successful track record of delivering change, well.

2. Getting the Right Contribution at the Right Time, so who needs to be in the team? and when ? SME’s, partners, suppliers, who is the change impacting? What are their persona types – how do we get their input & involvement? Identifying some of this at the discovery sessions, and then ensuring you are reviewing this throughout for the weeks ahead.

3. Governance – where do you need to update or get contributions from the wider
business ?

Empowerment – often leaders and teams make the mistake of saying off you go you are empowered to make this change happen, or even worst just assuming the team knows what they can and can’t do.

It is important at the outset to decide what level of empowerment it warrants ?

a. Tame problem/Minor step change – something you can just let people sort it out

b. Wicked problem / new product – lots of collaboration to master the resolution or delivery

c. Critical – to the survival of the business, product line growth – important that someone take the lead and tells the team what they need to do now, next

and then what level of support do the team, members require…

 

So if you want change done well, remember PACE: Purpose, Agility, Contribution, Empowerment or if you have a struggling change programme or project – in order of priority CPAE ! 

Often an Outside In view can help – to get a fresh set of eyes, a different perspective, not teams who are familiar with your ways of working. 

That is why our clients get in touch with Custerian to work with a clients teams to get the right stuff done, brilliantly !

Categories
Customer Engagement customer experience

Custerian Backs Raise Your Hands

Custerian supports Raise Your Hands - Charity

It is hugely important to us here at Custerian, as an SME in the UK, and as a member of Business in the Community, that we continue to support very worthy causes at this extraordinary time.

Small charities transform lives every day. Which is why at Custerian we proudly support Raise Your HandsRaise Your Hands exists to increase the impact of exceptional small charities.

Their work has impact and yet they still struggle for funding so please head over to their website below and see how you too can help out!

Raise Your Hands Charity Website Link

Custerian supports raise your hands
Categories
Customer Engagement customer experience

Why Customers (Don’t) Choose You!

Why Customers (Don’t) Choose You!

I recently supported the Awards International CX Awards as a judge for the second time. It’s great to see the ongoing focus on customer experience of the entrants and seeing some of their reactions to Covid impacts. Some of them however stood out more. Those that have truly brought their employees with them and created solutions together.

Recent months have affected us all in different ways from both a business and personal perspective. Habits have changed. I’m shopping more locally but also thinking more about what I need and what I don’t and more consciously trying to keep in touch with friends and family as it’s easy to lose that when there are no gatherings. I for one miss that interaction.

So let’s put this into customer thinking….

Are you in touch with your customers?

Ask yourself the following (honestly):

  • Are you keeping in touch with your customers?
  • In a way that they want you to?
  • About the things they want from you?
  • Are you making it easy for them to get in touch?
  • Ae you monitoring their needs and expectations?
  • Are you considering emotions – how your interaction makes them feel? (Don’t forget this as it’s a key element to engagement)

Or

  • When they contact, is Covid being used as an excuse for long wait times or lower levels of service?

Are there things you instantly think you could do better now you think about it?

Can your own experiences shape your approach to customers?

This is something I feel is a great way to drive improvement. I often think about what I like / don’t about the service I receive and how I would support the improvement given the opportunity…..

Here are some examples of my recent experiences:

  • Car service booking – long wait time to answer with a Covid message being played (many times!) to justify the holding. I sat there thinking – is there a staffing issues, are they trying to save costs, are there really many more calls etc and of course – I could be doing something better!
  • Delivery due between 3&5pm. Changed on the day to between 1&3. That’s fine. Never arrived or attempted & received an email that I’m not in (I was sat in the window!!) and then tracking stated there was a problem (really!!). I then had to contact the retailer – who would accept my query 7 days after the product was due. Trying to find contact details was equally frustrating – anyone would think they did not want me to complain!!!
  • Telecomms company – received an email regarding my package a couple of weeks before renewal. Sent messages prior to renewal date for more information and followed up twice – still no response weeks on!!! If I knew others were better, I would have moved. I have contacted them to offer support!

I don’t know about you, but with some many things on the go – isolation, home schooling, work, entertaining children – I want other things to be easy.

How fast are expectations changing?

So are my expectations greater now than in the past – yes. The leaders in service set our expectations and we expect others to follow – across all sectors.

I’m not asking for same day delivery – I’m asking for the product I want, to be right, to be delivered on time. Or for a services – for my contact response time to be minimal and my query answered first time ideally. That’s not a lot to ask.

Expectations are changing as fast as the leaders are driving them. You only have to look at Amazon this year, accounting for around 47% of retail sales I believe. It’s not the cheapest anymore, but it’s simple, convenient and reliable.

If you’re not doing the basics well, you won’t be chosen.

People don’t want to spend more time than they have to – if it takes too long, they won’t come back – unless they have to. But once they don’t, they will leave.

Meeting or exceeding expectations is the way to retain. So now for the great things I’ve seen over recent weeks – I’ve spent much more time remembering these (key point!)

  • Co-op App – I received a leaflet to ask me to sign up. It was quick and easy and I receive weekly offers to choose from (relevant to me) so I now make savings most time I shop. The other thing I love is that I am reminded to choose a local charity that I will support by shopping at the Co-op. The charity changes and this week I needed to choose again. I feel that shopping locally is helping others locally too.
  • Local Retailers – In my local town, a number of stores have taken to thanking you for shopping with them, every time you visit. Again building your engagement with them. Linked to this I ordered some personalised notebooks for a gift and received a personalised message on the box and inside thanking me also. Nice touch!

So what can we learn from our own experiences?

  • I feel it is the recognition of brands of what we are going through, of being nice, of saying thank you, you’re making a difference of making it easier. We can all do this in some way.
  • Know your customers and their needs and follow their experience with you and think about what you know could be better and make it happen.

I could go on – but I think you get the idea.

Think outside in….

  • follow the journey your customers do, use your own experience to improve theirs
  • find their needs and their frustrations (colleagues can help here),
  • fix what you can now
  • plan for the rest

and you’ll be on the right track

Beverley Stag - Custerian Outcome Creation Specialist www.custerian.com

Categories
Customer Engagement customer experience

Purpose is the New Digital in Retail

We all need Organic Mango’s from Finca Los Pepones!

Purpose is the new digital in Retail

We all shop and spend our hard-earned cash, so everyone can relate to this, so thanks for opening and having a look, I thought I would share my thoughts on:

  • the changes in consumer behaviours
  • the trends for 2020 and beyond
  • my views on these, and why they matter
  • 5 things to add to your basket

Lounge suits are the new business dress, our lounges are for lunges J

2020 has seen a step change in consumer behaviours, due to convenience or really not having a choice due to restrictions, whether that be food shopping, clothes shopping or choosing a new car.  For some, spending has reduced or been paused due to worries about what the future holds.

For others the last few months has been a time to change: in wardrobes – more ‘comfy’ clothes as we spend our lives on video conferences; new cushions, or adding a few more pictures to make the house look nicer – as we are sick of staring at the same ones every day; and gardens which have been our staycations to replace vacations.  

There are various predictions about what 2020 will look like post the retail peak, with suggestions that the whole of UK retail will be down 4.6% versus 2019, and it will take to 2022 (for most) to recover to 2019 levels.  I am sure this will be a similar picture around the world.  Online has increased (no surprise there) by circa 17%.  

There’s no going back – this shift in our spending and our behaviours won’t revert

It’s become our new norms, some wish it would all go away so we can go back how it was at the start of the year, it won’t, but what is changing is our expectations.  We have experienced those brands that have really stepped up to the mark and given us great shopping experiences, our tolerance is now very low for ‘out of stocks’, ‘poor delivery’, ‘dreadful customer service’– businesses have had enough time to shift the dial, and in fact in the main, it’s the ones that were far behind the curve pre Covid that appear to have gotten worse and still using Covid as the reason for poor standards. 

Quite simply consumers won’t and don’t need to put up, as there is a vast array of choices and brands fighting for our money and I am sure like me, many consumers are really thinking about who and where they are spending the cash and the value it brings.

So what are the shifts? The re-inventions of retail?

According to the recent report published by Deloitte they refer to 3 trends:

  • Sustainability is the new paradigm shift
  • Re-invention of retail
  • Purpose is the new digital

Here’s the link if you want to read more on their report: Deloitte

KMPG has also shared their views and research too with 4 trends which are:

  • Business Models will evolve
  • Purpose to the forefront
  • Rethink the cost of doing business
  • Customer Choice is changing

Here’s the link if you want to read more on their report: KMPG

So, some similar themes between the two reports. 

It’s interesting, as I have reflected on an event that we chaired with a number of retailers over 6 years ago at Fortnum and Masons in London. A fantastic graphic artist sketched some the themes that came out of this – it feels a little bit sometimes like groundhog day, as some of the same themes, issues, trends are still being discussed today – and we can say this, as myself and my co-founder have come from many years working in retail and we have continued to work with many retailers over the last few years.

Retail Customer Experience

Emotionless Brands are simply products/services. This has always been the case, but it is now more important than ever.

So my 5 key things to add to your basket

  1. Everything has a Purpose – work out what yours is and see if that is what you want it to be
  2. Brand without emotion – is a product or service that adds no value to people – so how can you add more emotion?
  3. Think of digital in terms of how it can enable your purpose to reach to people who want it most
  4. Colleagues who deal with your customers (store, contact centres, delivery colleagues) understand most what’s not working, where investment needs to be made – so Listen to them, involve them in designing the changes
  5. Retail isn’t dead – it’s just the Old ways are, big adjustments (fast) matter

I hope you enjoyed this post, to read more go to www.custerian.com  – A company founded and run by practitioners to get (the right) stuff done using the experience gained operating at board level in large UK retail, distance shopping, financial services, logistics and service organisations, covering all aspects of the ‘C’ suite remit, from brand /proposition creation, to service model creation/development & operational delivery.

Emotionless Brands are simply products/services. This has always been the case, but it is now more important than ever.


So my 5 key things to add to your basket

  1. Everything has a Purpose – work out what yours is and see if that is what you want it to be
  2. Brand without emotion – is a product or service that adds no value to people – so how can you add more emotion?
  3. Think of digital in terms of how it can enable your purpose to reach to people who want it most
  4. Colleagues who deal with your customers (store, contact centres, delivery colleagues) understand most what’s not working, where investment needs to be made – so Listen to them, involve them in designing the changes
  5. Retail isn’t dead – it’s just the Old ways are, big adjustments (fast) matter

I hope you enjoyed this post, to read more go to www.custerian.com  – A company founded and run by practitioners to get (the right) stuff done using the experience gained operating at board level in large UK retail, distance shopping, financial services, logistics and service organisations, covering all aspects of the ‘C’ suite remit, from brand /proposition creation, to service model creation/development & operational delivery.

Nicola Collister

Nicola Collister – Co Founder of Custerian. Passionate about getting the right stuff done, through practical strategies and outcomes for the good of customers, colleagues and business. Creating alignment between purpose and outcomes through people. From a travel clerk to executive positions in FTSE 100 businesses. Now working with businesses who want to Transform for Good. www.custerian.com

Categories
Customer Engagement customer experience

Messy Processes – Messy Customer Experiences?

Messy Processes – Messy Customer Experiences?

I am sure you have heard more than once in your life as a customer, in your businesses, or a reply from a colleague: “Sorry, it is against our policy” or “It is against regulations”.  How is it against regulations when others are doing it? No, it is just an easy escape from feeling you offer bad customer experiences. How many companies actually mix bad internal processes with regulations or policies? Quite a few I’m sure!

Hopefully, that isn’t the case in your company. It is actually easy to test. Find out how many times your clients hear phrases like “I’m sorry, our system doesn’t allow us to do that.” Or “It doesn’t work like that. The way our process works is ……” or “the system is telling me that….”. Those are clear indicators of messy processes leading to messy customer experiences.

And why would you care? Certainly not because more clients would spend more money in your business if those processes were functioning better? Or if your existing clients give you 60-70% higher profitability than the new ones? There is a ton of research now that shows this ‘value’ yet why are more businesses reacting faster to the changes needed? The latest UKCSI report published in July this year https://lp.instituteofcustomerservice.com/ukcsi-july-2020 shows that overall customer satisfaction is the same as 12 months ago, but now 1.2 points lower that 2 years ago! In a world where digital is at the forefront, it is a lot easier to change the way we operate, and with the recent pandemic, there could be a burning platform that allows you to galvanise the changes needed.

 

I’m sure you find those as very good reasons to start aligning your organisation’s processes to customer experiences. It will actually increase your revenue; it is as simple as that. Removing waste from a lean perspective is great, removing it from a customer perspective can be remarkable.

Too many companies have “inside-out” focus, that is focusing on themselves instead of “outside-in” focus which is about putting the customer at the centre of everything. Journey mapping is one of the practical ways of putting customers in the centre.

So, what should you do?

Most companies can start from the basics. That is to map out all the relevant customer journeys, possibly by customer type. You can’t fix something you don’t understand first. Having a journey of what is going on makes it easier to plan the desired future state, that will respond to customer needs better. That leads to a second point, which is using the customer journey to see where the biggest pain points are – for people (customers and colleagues) and the business, and the opportunities for improvement, or innovation.  Then you can define how you want the future to look and build a roadmap to get there.

Summary

Your customer experiences are outcomes of your internal processes. Messy processes will lead to messy experiences, often for both customers and your colleagues. To fix your experiences, you have to fix your processes through the eyes of the customer – and that will take a much more customer-centric approach than traditional process methods may offer you (Lean, Six Sigma, BPM, etc.).

Here are some reflective questions you can use to evaluate your current situation:

  • Do you have a clear understanding of your different customer types & their needs? This is often referred to as Personas
  • Have you ever mapped their customer journeys? If yes, are they up to date? Are you using them to understand how they produce successful customer outcomes? And making it as easy as possible to interact with you?
  • Do you have a prioritisation model or framework to assess what will make the most difference, as you and your teams won’t be able to do everything at once!
  • Based on the priorities, do you have a plan in place, with clear activities, timescales, resource and the right governance to ensure that progress is made and activities are delivered?

It can help to get an outside in view – Many businesses get someone to help hold the mirror up to messy processes and less than perfect experiences. It’s important to ensure that you get a health check on your ‘Operational Fitness’ to deliver great experiences.

 

Custerian are expert practitioners having done this for lots of different companies across multiple sectors, often helping embed different tools, frameworks and skillsets into internal teams to continue on the journey of improvement.   Want to simply have chat or know more contact us on 01925 607060 or drop us an email at approach@custerian.com

By Beverley Stagg - Outcome Creation Specialist www.custerian.com

Categories
Customer Engagement customer experience

Successfully engage customers and realise 50% higher productivity

Successfully engage customers and realise 50% higher productivity

Successfully engage customers and realise 50% higher productivity

I’m hearing lots about customer expectations & how they’re changing. According to a recent report, companies that successfully engage their B2B customers realise 63% lower customer attrition. They also achieve a 55% higher share of wallet, and 50% higher productivity.*

*https://medium.com/@OutgrowCo/customer-engagement-statistics-in-2020-547e41c70c74

So how do you align operations to changing customer expectations? In this article I consider:

  • Why expectations are changing
  • How this could impact / what you should think about
  • How your operations may need to change
  • What you should measure to get to the right priorities

Customer Expectations are increasing

An ever-growing challenge that isn’t going to subside, is that we are always switched on & connected. At least 60% of UK adults use more than 2 devices with 87% of us using a smartphone*. We therefore have much easier access to organisations if things go wrong.

Equally, new and emerging consumer technologies continue to become a core part of our lives (I sit here typing this on my Mac with phone and laptop close by & iPad downstairs. They are accessible to all ages for a variety of different needs and are easy to use, with great product design (that isn’t just apple products, a lot of consumer electronics now meet this human need).

Along with next day delivery, (now even same day delivery), for virtually anything becoming part of our shopping habits, are we just becoming intolerant of poor product and service design?

What is a day in the life of an ever-typical customer – more so now…

So if we can check our smart phone 350 times a day, find out ‘near time’ information about: what our friends ate for dinner; how a family members birthday celebration went (as we couldn’t attend); and what a random person we met at a conference a while ago thinks about everything. We can at the same time: book our holidays / staycations from our phones; order dinner to be delivered from a local restaurant; purchase an electronic item through ‘click and collect’ for collection at a supermarket; and download a book that other people highly recommended. All whilst travelling if you need to!

Is this becoming more typical of your customers too?

We are now even more used to online shopping / apps since that has been our main way to purchase over recent weeks / months –  is it any wonder that our service expectations are increasing?

We no longer tolerate stuff that’s not personal or relevant. We get far too many e-mails that we’re quick to hit the “Delete” button or even unsubscribe if we can be bothered to go through that process. So how do we almost stop that deleting or ignoring of things and make it feel real for customers?

We naturally work across multiple channels. I find myself watching TV whilst texting and doing a little bit of retail therapy on my iPad. We are fast becoming anytime, anyplace, anything. How do we deliver that ‘martini service’ for all our customers out there?

We know far more about customers, they are quite willing in most cases to give us information about themselves, you can determine more a more about their persona from their social media footprint. Tailoring services or messages based on this drives engagement. 

So how does this impact how you operate?

The aim for organisations should be to maximise revenue through engaged colleagues and customers. In order to achieve this, we need to understand them. If we do this, we can align what we do best with what customers want most through our people.

Once you know what customers and colleagues want and the issues they face, you can work to improve your processes and ways of working and importantly, measure your effectiveness. It isn’t just about what you do, it’s how you do it.

Finally, you should look at how technology can make it easier for colleagues and customers to deliver and receive the service. There is still a relatively low level of digital automation being used and so cost benefits are not being fully realised.

What does the research say?

[ADD IMAGE – CONTACT BABEL FRONT COVER]

The mean cost per inbound transaction by channel was shown to be: Phone (£4.53); Email (£3.89); Web chat (£3.39); Social Media (£3.18). For emails, it is therefore the case that if the query is not answered satisfactorily within a single response, the time and cost associated with multiple replies and possibly phone calls is soon greater than if the customer had simply called in the first instance.**

We can see that customers want to use different channels at different times and after all, we are all different – you won’t win by driving customers to one cheaper channel.

There can be strong patterns for contact based on age, but it does also depend on the nature of the contact, whether emotional, urgent or complex. Urgent queries will for example drive self-serve attempts – to get an answer quickly. For a product which customers really wanted to receive and had been delivered but was incorrect, the most popular option was to email the organisation (46%), with the second most popular (19%), was phoning the contact centre.**

What should you measure?

Based on research and experience, you need to measure use of channels based on contact types, look at time to achieve an outcome, also did all the people who started a process in a certain channel complete it?  If not, why? If they are dropping out or aborting, where and why – have you tried this process yourself, have your customer service colleagues tried it, as an internal test?  and look for opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness of how you serve customers.  There may one or two channels that would be better for a customer to use and it may mean you really do need to speak with them. 

Depending on your organisation this may involve a whole scale change to your operating model, or a focus on the areas of the business where customers are served.

A final thought…

As the green cross code used to say:

STOP – take a pause & think about your purpose and how you’re doing in delivering it

LOOK – at your measures and what they’re saying

LISTEN – to your customers and colleagues (outside in and inside out)

Then start your planning to achieve an effective, seamless service that works for all your people.

 

Beverley Stag

Custerian Outcome Creation Specialist

 

*Statista, March 2020

** Contact Babel: The Inner Circle Guide to Contact Centre Remote Working Solutions, 2020

By Beverley Stagg - Outcome Creation Specialist www.custerian.com

Categories
Customer Engagement customer experience

Customer Experience or Customer Engagement – what’s the difference and how do you truly engage?

Customer Experience or Customer Engagement – what’s the difference and how do you truly engage?

Customer experience is traditionally focussed on flexing what you do to meet customer expectations. Achieving a great customer experience and maintaining it, needs ongoing focus and visibility of:

  • Strong employee engagement with customer vision & strategy embedded into the DNA of the company
  • Multi-channel consistency
  • Always ‘Easy’ to do business with (for the customer and colleagues)
  • Fixes customers’ mistakes easily, often proactively
  • Continuous improvement culture with closed feedback loops, always looking to improve
  • Brand promise delivered every time
  • Wow moments where relevant

Customer engagement, which Custerian have been talking about for years, is about matching what you do best to what a customer wants most. Matching purpose with outcomes.

We actually talk about People Engagement, people being customers, colleagues, suppliers.

People engagement starts with a clear business purpose that everything can be aligned to. You need to have a strong view of what your purpose is, and this is something many companies struggle with. Customer experience focusses on the outcomes – process and priorities.

You need to create this alignment between purpose and outcomes through people.

  • People – they need to understand the purpose and how they can contribute in a way that allows them to feel good/great.
  • Proposition – why should people deal with you rather than another organisation?
  • Process – do you work as efficiently and effectively as possible to deliver what you do best to your customers?
  • Priorities – do you relentlessly focus on creating a great experience for customers and colleagues?

Colleagues play a massive part in customer engagement. More companies are starting to recognise this and are thinking about ways in which they can drive further engagement here.

Here are some tips to start you thinking about colleague engagement:

  • Clarity – this is about translating the purpose so that it makes sense to everyone in the organisation – this may be done through your strategy, plans, values etc.
  • Relevance – build the level of trust through regular communication, consistently re-enforcing messages.
  • Value – showing the value of your colleagues – gaining opinions and developing your organisation through them.
  • Meaning – this goes beyond your organisation – many people want to give back through communities and create relationships with customers in a different way – this makes people feel good – about themselves and their organisation.

So, let’s get onto what customers want in order to create that alignment and in turn, engage them. People just want to know something and want life to be more simple, life is too much in the fast lane.

In recent dealings with customers, they were very clear. In a service delivery organisation where things do go wrong for customers (and they expect it can happen), then they ideally want to be contacted pro-actively but if not, want it to be easy to make contact in a way that suits them, and then they want their expectations managed. Do what you say, and they will be happy with that. If you actually go above and beyond, such as the pro-active contact, then they will recommend you to others.

We heard some other great examples of brands that were achieving this engagement by offering discounts automatically based on spend (that weren’t expected) or by their amazing returns/exchange policies. These companies now have loyal customers.

So, we have brands/organisations telling us about their products and services and we have customers that want a need to be met easily, through their channel of choice. So, what brings the two together? Data!

We have more data than ever before, and brands use this to their advantage. GDPR regulations have, however, thrown a spanner in the works somewhat – we as customers, now have more control over our personal information and can ask for our data to be removed! We’re all so quick to remove Apps that we haven’t used in a while or unsubscribe from annoying communications.

A lot of businesses really don’t know their customers habits. Have you thought about personas for your company and how these could help to drive your strategy? Get your colleagues involved in creating them – it’s a fun thing to do and really gets you thinking about how you need to treat people differently. Knowing your customers allows you to prioritise developments – where to automate and reduce customer effort. As customers we’re becoming increasing capable of serving ourselves – if this is an option for us to use (and we want to) and then it’s quick and easy, we’re happy. One point here – we do need to be reassured that our transaction has been successful!

Technology is moving fast, and we need to stay close and use the developments to our advantage. Adobe released survey data in July 2019 that found 48% of consumers are using voice for general web searches. With 87% of people in the UK using a smart phone*, we need to consider such growth in our contact strategies as our expectations as customers are increasing and quickly.

Hopefully I’ve got you thinking… as we look forward, what are the things you need to plan for and do to operate more effectively and really engage customers? Now is the time to start the planning and then perhaps this time next year any impacts of Christmas, winter or any peak season won’t quite hit as hard and more customers will be raving about your organisation!

*Statista, March 20202

By Beverley Stagg - Outcome Creation Specialist www.custerian.com

Categories
customer experience new ways of working thoughts Uncategorized value

People – The Bit That Customer Experience Misses

People - The Bit That Customer Experience Misses

Customers & Colleagues Are….. People

So what I am talking about here is the growth of purpose led, or the need for emotional engagement in, brands/products/services etc…. which should be:

  1. Of absolutely no surprise to anyone
  2. A really great basic for us all to grasp

Most people come to work for, and like to buy from, organisations that they feel represent and/or enhance something they feel intrinsically represents themselves (or in reality the best version of themselves).

So in this article what I am going to explore are some of the things you might want to consider. As with many of my postings/musings much of this has been about for a while and I can be a bit contrary about about it being presented as ‘exciting and new’.

However the bit that perhaps I have not really paid due consideration to is the fact that until only recently most people have not had the remit, capability or permission to stray outside of their functional silo, but if ‘digital’ is doing one thing… it is exposing those that do not adopt a true Outside In view of creating and delivering their brand.

And that leads me to what is wrong with (philosophically & practically) Customer Experience.. it should be People Experience.

Before We Get Started

Straight out of the box I just want to get this clear:

By People Experience I am NOT talking about the bit HR are increasingly doing. I AM talking about the bit Customer Experience, in my view, gets wrong. Wrong in the context of only considering one stakeholder’s needs when trying to create an enduring business in a competitive marketplace.

I do have a lot of time for CX. In fact, our Co-Founder Nicola Collister was the first UK top 100 CX Main Board Director more than 10 years ago. But for us CX thinking is fundamentally flawed, which is why we pioneered People Experience. NOT as a methodology – we are far too interested in creating outcomes for that – but as a mindset and approach to getting and maintaining competitive advantage.

The Only Goal That Matters

To succeed in a competitive marketplace, and to be honest provide a more enjoyable place to work, you need to:

Provide an emotionally compelling reason for people to ‘deal’ with you in preference to a competitor.

You do this by working out what you do best (your proposition), that ‘your’ customers want most, and then delivering it as consistently, efficiently & effectively as possible. It’s a 360 degree all stakeholder thing… not just a customer thing…

Context Is King – Or a Camel will only beat a Horse in a desert

Before I do share my thin thinking one-word strategy approach, a bit of context.

We ask the CEO’s we come across – honestly you can talk to them, after all they are People just like you and me – how much time they spend on strategy, and the usual answer is not much. 

They are universally more focussed on the delivery of strategy and looking for accountable ways of ‘directing’ the business to do so, than they are in creating new strategies!

I say this up front as I do not want to denigrate strategy, just put it into context. Oh, and as an aside, if you are spending ages on your strategy (time & money), you most likely don’t have a compelling Proposition you believe in. Or you are engaged in vast amounts of political infighting between siloed business functions Vs delivering stuff your customers want.

A Good Place To Start 

The reason why a step to considering your Colleagues and Customers as People (as long as you then go onto recognise how they might behave differently in certain context – hence why you create ‘Persona’s) is because ‘People Buy From People Like Themselves’. 

Also, every single transaction we have as humans irrespective of a physical product changing hands, is a purchase/exchange – “I’ll do something for you, if you do something for me”.

And they make this judgement based on something often referred to as intuition, which can be better articulated as – I’m likely to feel better (or worse) about myself by dealing with this person/company.

Fig 1 Why People Buy – Or Talk to – Or Socialise With – Certain People

And just for absolute clarity if anyone states you can trust them… Do please start looking for the small print. Trust is earned by one party and bestowed by the other. It’s not a value that can be stated.

So Emotion Is Present In All Transactions – So It’s A Given?

Here is the odd bit. Many companies find emotion at work a really hard thing to allow though the door. I suspect most associate it with either conflict (something often associated with change – and unavoidable + necessary by the way). Or woolly rubbish best left to Marketing and their overcharging agencies.

But if you are going to leverage the next big differentiator which is your Colleagues – don’t forget they are people – then you are going to have to spend significantly more time and effort of understanding how they can feel a lot better about themselves by coming to work.

The Easy Bit

Luckily identifying this is very easy to do. It’s the execution bit that gets hard because we exist in a ‘doing loads of stuff differently all the time‘ culture and most executives are penalised for finding new and exciting and engaging ways of doing the same things differently – you know, like promoting the core values in ways all employees can understand and contribute to so that they can help the managers & directors deliver exceptional service intuitively to the Customers, who spend more, for longer, so driving shareholder value.

Fig 2 People Centric Change

So simply put, the emotion that ‘People’ should be engaging with comes from your Business purpose via your Proposition. And the engine house of emotional engagement are your Values.

The reason it’s easier than you think to get at these, even if like most you are sceptical, and/or can’t remember your brand values because (completely wrongly by the way!) most organisations again feel Values are the woolly stuff marketing come up with, is that the values that make up your ‘Brand’ can be found in the People – Customer & Colleagues – who transact with you now.

Why… Emotionally… Should I Buy From You?

If you only ponder one question on you, please try to give the above one some headspace. And do so in the context of Customers, Colleagues, Managers, Directors & Shareholders… after all, are we not all people.

Simon Norie

Co-Founder

Custerian.com

PS: As a final thought Simon has done a short (3 minute) video which you can view below or by  CLICKING HERE

By Simon Norie - Co-Founder & Empathy Creation Specialist
Data led Board level Brand marketeer. Passionate about aligning Colleagues to a common purpose they can contribute too. www.custerian.com

Categories
Agile agile business align business intelligence customer experience empowerment engage new ways of working operating model proposition thoughts value

Agile – But where are the people?

Agile - But where are the people?

Agile working has been talked about for years but now, the conversation moves to virtual agile working and how you can make this effective. 

Agile working has been talked about for years but now, the conversation moves to virtual agile working and how you can make this effective. The team at Nimble have provided their thoughts on this at: https://www.nimbleapproach.com/thoughts/tips-for-remote-working. We have also been practicing far more virtually than in the past an have honed our processes accordingly.

We are big advocates of working with Agility, almost as much as we are fans of getting the most done, with the least amount of effort. Creating great outcomes by liberating the people potential contained in all business, within a very commercially orientated framework. So as you might imagine I have a view on this debate.

A view does not mean I think I am right by the way. A view is a way of looking at something… I just thought i’d say that before getting to the meat of this post… which is many of these things sort of miss the point for me.

It’s not the methodology. It’s the people

One of our meme’s is “In this increasingly virtualised world – It’s people that  make (and will continue to do so) the biggest difference”. I introduce this as the Agile Vs Prince – which may or may not encompass Waterfall etc – debate often seems to exist in a process vacuum and therefore misses the things that for me define the very essence of a successful project or not.

Leadership style

 

Before you look at which project method to adopt, consider what the leadership style (which by the way will define the culture – it always flows top down) is. There are two simple camps on this, and this has also been done to death by a lot of people, but you really should consider the following:

– Purpose driven – Is the business driven by a common, widely understood (this is different from agree with by the way) sense of what the business exists to do, that people feel able to contribute to and understand their role in creating value for Customers, Colleagues & other stakeholders. People here come to work because they feel they make a difference. 

– Process driven – Is the business focussed on how things are done, with people having an understanding of what their specific role is and are measured and rewarded on the basis of delivering tasks that they, and the teams they are accountable for, need to get done. People here come to work to move things along.

I don’t really have a strong view on which is better of the above in terms of achieving outcomes, and in effect most business’ don’t present in such a black and white manner. I do however know which I prefer to work in.

What I would absolutely say is one of these requires less management effort (which means cost by the way) and is in my business experience more likely to create sustainable value over time. It does this because it is built on emotional engagement and as I said at the head of this an emotionally engaged team can move mountains. I will leave you to work out which one it is.

Context

In my humble option Context (capital ‘C’ of course – I used to run a Direct Marketing Agency, what can I say – type as you speak!) is more important that talent, insight and process for creating correct outcomes. Again though this has been done to death by a lot of others, which of course may not mean we take heed of it.

But here are two factors that again get missed by many in the which approach wins debate (either, neither, or any combination being the real answer of course). Again I think these should be understood with crystal clarity before you ascribe any approach:

Technology – Put very simply the cost and consequence of any change – which of course will involve technology as almost everything does – has fallen though the floor and is continuing to do so at an accelerated pace. Business used to be quite rightly very risk averse as you were often banking the business future when making service/operating model changes. That is very often not the case today. Interestingly though it is mostly people capability that holds this one back – Legacy Systems = Legacy Mind/Skillset.

Enviromental – When you look at how business is being done today, it is at a crossroads, with the internal ways of working increasingly looking at odds with the widely connected, personalised and increasingly ‘try, keep, dispose’ culture. The important it here is not that people who have been in work for a while need to change. It’s bit about the fundamental shift that new (and not so new) work entrants are bringing with them. For them it’s not a change. It’s how they expect things to be.

Final thought

I remember sitting in a board meeting when I was working in Home Shopping (subsequently re-invented as on-line, then e-commerce and now morphing into Digital first) and presenting about the potential impact of a new retailer called ZARA (yep.. that long ago). We were talking about how the pace of things were changing – Zara had 4 week lead times, ours were 18 months – and that we needed to adapt or die.

So perhaps the question is not what methodology, but do you understand the leadership style and the current context you will be delivering in.

What ever you decide the one thing that is absolutely certain is if you don’t approach change with agility, then there is a high chance you will not adapt in time and the business could die.

By Simon Norie - Co-Founder & Empathy Creation Specialist
Data led Board level Brand marketeer. Passionate about aligning Colleagues to a common purpose they can contribute too. LinkedIN www.custerian.com