KISS: Keep it simple and stupid. Simple and time saving customer experiences sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? However; how does the reality look like? Seriously; no company does design and implement complex and confusing processes on purpose. Reality shows that lots of websites, dialogues on an IVR, forms, E-Mail responses are eating up the customer’s time. Even simple requests cannot be processed and leave customers in confusion. Customer experiences aren’t simple at all.
If we put the customer’s hat on, we all can easily tell a few stories of time consuming, confusing processes we have experienced ourselves. We are in most cases pretty much aware of such stories happening in our own company. The list of broken processes where customers face issues, re-register their request, receive inconsistent information or are simply frustrated with misleading information and unclear instructions on getting through the procedures is endless.
Why is this situation so dangerous for companies? Confused customers don’t buy your products or services. It is that simple and straightforward. Trust is the most valuable currency in customer relationships. Complex and complicated processes can indeed destroy or at least erode trust. Customers who don´t trust you might buy once but their loyalty is highly at risk.
Simplifying processes: Life insurance for companies
The question is: How can companies achieve to design and implement simple processes for their customers. In order to tackle the jungle of complexity one needs to understand how organisations in most cases design and implement customer service processes.The first and foremost issue is the siloed structure of the organisation. Marketing, sales, controlling, HR, IT,… all have partial responsibility of a process. Coordinating an end to end process in a siloed organisation requires a lot of coordinations; the implementation of broken processes is almost implicit. Second one is that most customer interactions are designed with the internal efficiency mindset rather than an outside in approach. Fast and cost efficient cycle times with the intent to reduce labour costs are like a boomerang. Customers will most likely prefer a different journey than the one designed for them. As a result, the process will consume more time, since customer either do not understand the steps or they start complaining about the effort they have to invest their time in. Both will lead to the opposite result envisaged. Agents need way more time to explain complicated and time consuming procedures. Such inside-out thinking usually results in more complex experiences for customers.
Not surprisingly, companies that design their business processes based on outside-in thinking, witness significant reduction in handling times, thus improving customer experience.
How to start
A proven and effective method of designing customer centric yet simple processes is customer journey mapping. Customer Journey Mapping puts customers, their behaviours, needs, sorrows, frustration or wow moments in the center. It´s a pure outside in method which produces valuable insights. Where do customers fail, where do they get confused, where and why do they get frustrated. A customer journey map – well documented and analysed is a perfect starting point for designing and implementing simple and effective processes.
Harald Henn is passionate about customer service. He believes in simplifying life of customers, by making customer experience enjoyable and satisfying. Harald regulary contributes articles to sales and marketing publications and is a frequent speaker at the call center and CRM conferences. He is the author of two books on call center management and customer relationship management and a member of several advisory boards in the call center conference market.