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Customer focused, or are they?

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One of the key things that we look at when reviewing an organisations customer experience is understanding how a customer really feels when engaging with that organisation. A specific area that we focus on is asking the question,  what does the customer perceives as being the focus of the service? Or put another way, what is driving the way that an organisation serves its customers?

When we ask the organisation, they normally respond by saying that they are customer focused but invariably we discover that they are curtailed by systems, process, knowledge, an individual’s capabilities or a general institusionalised workforce.

What do we find?

When reviewing organisations interactions with customers we actually encounter;

  • a strong influence in some cases due to key performance indicators or targets, especially when contact durations are in focus
  • lengthy delays or gaps in a conversation illustrating process or system issues
  • Advisors apologosing for their systems being slow
  • Advisors having to refer to somebody else for the information they require
  • inflexible processes not meeting customers needs because they have to adhere to company policy
  • the misuse of terminology that is not known by customers e.g. using internal department/team names or product details.

So far we have looked predominantly at the initial interaction between a Contact Centre and a customer but that is only part of the picture. We also see other marketing material or information that is very much inwardly focused.

Appointment for who?

One of my particular dislikes is when you receive an appointment in the post. The appointment is clearly stated at  certain time but if you read the small print, it can often state that you need to arrive at Reception earlier  to register or undergo some initial tests. If this is the case then why not make the appointment ten minutes earlier?

This is a good example of where the driver of the process is the appointment schedule of the person that you are seeing rather than the customer. It would not take a significant amount of work to change this but organisations don’t even think about it, they are too obsessed with their internal organisation.


Another example is in the area of fulfilment and delivery. If I purchase a product from company ABC that has delivery attached to it then they should take responsibility for the delivery. We all know that they use a third party for delivery but it is part of their end-to-end process. If it fails, they should own it and not refer to the delivery partner. I have purchased from them, I am not a customer of the delivery company.

So clearly, in a world where customer experience is regarded as being a really important component in an organisation’s success, there is a need to focus more on the experience from a customer’s perspective. It is very difficult to take a real objective look when fully absorbed within an organisation, you cannot help but understand why things happen the way that they do. In this case it is essential to engage with customers or utilise an independent consultant who will see past the constraints.