Teleco's need to get serious about digitising customer journeys (part 2 – a long term solution)

In a previous post I illustrated my personal experience when signing up for DSL with a German Telco. I presented a quick fix. Here is the long term solution approach:

In short: After signing-up online I received an email with a pdf attached saying that I had to call the contact centre to tell them a number printed on my wall jack. No option to send a text or email, or to fill in a form field during sign up. 10 weeks and multiple phone calls with a total wait time of over 180 minutes later I still don’t have internet access. The costs for the Telco in terms of lost revenue and service costs easily add up to 100 Euros. This is before any installation happened. I concluded that the problem is a lack of focus on digitising customer journeys and I presented journey mapping as a quick fix solution. Sometimes journey mapping doesn’t go deep enough.

If a lack of focus on the customer journey is the symptom, what is the root cause? It’s probably the way your organisation operates which is linked to the way your organisation is structured which is linked to your organisational mindset (figure 1).

Figure 1. Organisational mindset, structure and operating model

Figure 1. Organisational mindset, structure and operating model

Organisational mindset

Many service providers haven’t realised that they are providing a service and not selling a product. Services and products are different in the way they are produced and consumed. Services are co-created by the customer and the service provider and often consumed at the same time. Products are typically created before they are purchased and purchased before they are being used. Thus, the creation and consumption of a service tends to happen simultaneously while the creation and consumption of a product happens sequentially. This is an important realisation that can affect how an organisation positions itself in the market, interacts with employees and customers, and communicates the value it provides to customers and stakeholders. Then there are structural barriers that are often a result of a sequential ‘product mindset’.

Organisational structure

Chances are your organisation is structured around channels. Separate Chief Officers are responsible for digital, print, the contact centre, the store, etc. In most organisations the budget is also assigned by department. The problem with a channel-oriented structure und budgeting is that it can create silos within an organisation. Employees tend to think of their work in the context of their particular channel. While the journey within one channel might be seamless the experience often breaks when customers (are forced to) switch channels. Organisations need to break down silos between departments and design services from a customer perspective. It’s important to allow for cross-channel budgeting and to create cross-channel teams that work together on a regular basis to improve the service experience. The organisational structure influences how things are done in an organisation, the operating model.

Operating model

Customer behaviour is changing at a faster pace than ever before. How does your organisation respond to changes in usage patterns and channel preferences? Do you actively direct customers to your preferred channels or do you give customers free channel-choice? As a management consultant and service designer I conducted hundreds of customer interviews and I learned that most customers don’t want to choose from a huge variety of channels. They have a task in mind that they want to complete. What matters most is to help them find the best channel to get their task done as quickly as possible.

A flexible and agile operating model helps you to reduce over-capacities and to prevent channel bottlenecks by strategically guiding customers to your cheapest channels that provide the best customer experience. It also enables you to quickly respond to ‘emergencies’ and unplanned events. Imagine a competitor who has just launched an aggressive new service offering. How does your current operating model respond? Are you able to quickly coordinate changes to your service portfolio across multiple channels, from print, to the store, web, social, mobile apps? Who is briefing the contact centre and retail staff? Stop the hectic fire fighting and invest in building an agile operating model than can deal with unforeseen situations.

Succeeding in creating world-class services requires a deep understanding of customer journeys, and designing and improving services around them. Cultural, structural and operational aspects need to be considered to create a service organisation that focuses on customer needs and responds to a changing environment. Redesigning organisational structures, improving the operating model and installing a service-oriented organisational mindset are big tasks that are best approached by continuous tweaks and strategic nudges in the right direction (culture hacking). Invest in building an agile service organisation that can respond to an environment of increased competition and changing customer expectations.

And of course, I’m here to help, get in touch and let’s talk through your service offering and how culture hacking can help you.

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Posted by Dr. Sebastian Vetter