Connect The Dots…For Your Customer

connect the dots your customer

During a recent trip to the Caribbean, the flight attendant distributed the country’s requisite entry forms shortly before landing. This struck me as odd as I had read on the website that visitors are required to enter all relevant travel information into the newly created app prior to arrival.  This seemed like a duplication of effort, so I asked if I still needed to complete the form and was told by the flight attendant that they were unaware of the app.  At that point I pulled out my phone and delivered a mini tutorial.  This begs the question, as purveyors of tourists to this sun destination, why did they not know about this critical change to the entry criteria?

There is a valuable lesson here for process creators….do you see it?  Insular process design incubated in silo results in customers having to connect the dots themselves, at best, or become angered and frustrated, at worst, which can undermine your value proposition.

With Covid, we have witnessed and experienced an unprecedented era in history.  Among countless other things this virus has been the catalyst for organizations to quickly spin up or augment existing business processes to either adhere to new protocols or become a going concern. Under this degree of pressure, it is easy for organizations to turn inward and build processes that only support the achievement of their goals, which are oftentimes misaligned with the customer or client experience.

When I returned, I was randomly selected for a PCR test at the airport. Upon completion, I was told to expect my results within 3 days; however, this was not the case. This lead time breach was being driven by the explosive volume of omicron cases, but the need to increase the wait time had not been communicated.  I waited 7 days for my results and after many phone calls, I was directed to contact a Federal Health organization. The customer service representative explained that they were unable to help me, and, furthermore, they did not understand why customers were being directed their way.  At that point, I recommended that they contact their colleagues upstream to change the communication to the customers.  I know that this was unsolicited advice, but I considered it a public service to anyone following in my footsteps.

Here is my point, when designing processes, start with the system in which the process will exist.  Even if the scope of the process is within your control you should know and understand what happens upstream and downstream.  Additionally, the process needs to make sense within its context.  For example, I was in quarantine awaiting a negative covid test for 7 days, after being required to have a negative Covid test to board the plane and showing no symptoms.  However, I had colleagues who tested positive on a rapid test and were in their right to leave their home after 5 days if they had no symptoms.

So, here is my challenge to you…it is two-fold

Share your experience

  1. At the beginning of the winter semester my students had good examples of processes they experienced that were not designed from the customers perspective and seemingly designed in silo. I would love to hear your experiences

Have you designed a process recently?

  1. Do a virtual walkthrough of the process from the customer’s vantage point. Are all the dots connected for them, or do they have to self educate?
  2. Who are all the players? Speak with them and understand if they know their role in supporting the client or customer through the experience.

Start with a system or an end-to-end perspective and work down to the process you need to design, or redesign to ensure you have the right people engaged.  Your efforts will result in a holistic experience for the customer, or client.  Let’s ensure we don’t destroy value by forcing customers to navigate broken processes and worse yet, to inform key players about process steps they should have known.

About the Author: Hazel

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