Following Mandisa Makubulo's example of the power of including customers from all backgrounds and abilities, I share four tools to build empathy when designing services.
In my experience, the biggest organisational divides lie between customer-facing staff and the so-called back office. [Calling it ‘back office’ is sometimes a put-down.]
And nothing will harm your reputation than these enormous silos. How I love a mixed metaphor.
We quickly lose the voice of the customer is when sales, marketing and customer services don’t communicate well. Or when operations, engineering and the supply chain fail to listen. Or when we are flailing in a sea of disconnected objectives. Issues reoccur. We rush new products and services out the door. So they carry forward the faults of their predecessors with new ones added just for them.
Continuous improvement is the only way to regularly satisfy customers. But not improvement for improvement’s sake.
Is this the truth of your organisation?
Customer-facing teams manage issues as best they can, employing smoothing tools like escalation, refunds and free replacements. But the problems continue without a fix from the ‘back office’.When the bottom-line starts to drrop, the shouting starts and we assume our job is harder than anyone else’s.
The front office demands solutions which the experts reject. Priorities get in the way and the job ‘I am being paid for’ takes precedence over customer feedback. Senior managers roll up their sleeves, tiger teams pounce and everyone retrenches as the bloodshed continues. When the dust settles, both sides tend to the wounded and wait for the next salvo.
How do you break down the walls, bridge the silos, share the pain?
With accountability and communication.
If accountability, everyone in the organisation stands by their impact on customers. Accountability starts at the top and must be unambiguous.
Communication is obvious, innit? Sadly not, look around you:
- Do you know what customers think of your products and services? Can you get the information that will help you take action?
- Can you easily pass on customer feedback? Do you know how to get the right information for the back-office?
Does your organisation have accountability and communication?
Simple process fixes can make a problem shared become a problem halved.