I recommend investing in an internal infrastructure and organizational system that allows for operators of these multiple touchpoints to work as autonomous units, at the appropriate speed, while playing from the same playbook. I recommend taking an in-depth look at the following elements and considering how well each customer touchpoint is able to provide a consistently delightful customer experience, operating autonomously, while being loosely governed by organizational principles, best practices and goals.
Hiring, development and enablement
Customer touchpoints can only be as excellent as the people who work there, which means that you need to hire and retain excellent people. Dan Pink talks about Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose as keys to employee motivation, and these elements must exist in any organization wishing to invest in excellent customer experience. The next step is to help these engaged employees define what the right thing is for the business and translate to their actions.
Culture is not a fluffy term; rather, it’s a business necessity for an organization wishing to invest in its customer experiences. Culture is what helps us do the right thing, acting in the interests of the company and the customer, in the absence of a manual, when we are faced with things that we couldn’t have predicted.
Connecting HQ to autonomous units
While culture is the glue that binds, information provides the building blocks to customer experience. To provide that consistent experience that the customer needs, employees need to be working from the same digital page. Successful and timely dissemination of information across the organization helps autonomous units interpret HQ’s strategy for their business. A robust rollup of information from autonomous units to HQ can help create better and timelier decisions.
To give an example, several stores in Westfield, Australia identified a problem with a gift card through customer feedback and came together on their internal social network to solve it. There was a communication issue around redemption codes, and a physical issue that placed the code too close to the magnetic strip, preventing the stripe from working. By working together, store managers created a revised communications package for retailers and consumers, and looped in the Support Office quickly to physically relocate codes.
Connecting across autonomous units
Thornton May talks about how adoption of change at different rates forces companies to fall out of sync internally. Especially with all of these autonomous units, a business without a connective infrastructure can turn into a cacophony that’s hopelessly out of sync. This infrastructure is like a connective tissue, bringing together people doing similar and adjacent jobs for deep collaboration and even unrelated jobs for fuller organizational context.
Access and visibility across the value chain
To be truly agile at customer touchpoints demands unprecedented access across the organization and beyond. Extending the line of vision across the partner ecosystem and allowing them the same vision into your organization, requires a rewiring of how we approach information sharing.
Access to data and sharing of insights
Today, we know more than ever about our customers -- from social signal, to customer record in CRM, to browsing and purchase behavior. Most of this data is trapped in organizational silos and at best used to make decisions inside of departments. Treating data holistically and sharing insights across the ecosystem can help us understand trends, predict a bit of the future and help us invest in the right things.
While official content originated by your business is important, and should be communicated and spread to your touch points -- the real efficiency arises from allowing your employees, customers and ecosystem to remix and spread it. Through the use of social media and communities, you will be able to effectively touch more people if you effectively equip your brand ambassadors to act on your behalf.
Providing an excellent customer experience is less about fancy campaigns and more about rewiring of the enterprise to consistently delight the customer at the touchpoints he or she chooses to have. What are you doing to delight your customers?
Editor's Note: Maria knows of what she speaks. Check out her The Employee is the New Customer