Designing for the Human Experience
It's a simple question that has a complex answer. According to Dr. Alan Weiss and Omar Khan, authors of the book, "Who’s Got Your Back? How to Design, Implement, Evaluate and Improve Your Business Through Measuring and Engaging Human Performance," the cause of part of the problem is, as they write in their introduction:
Leaders need and deserve help in understanding how to change the way in which human performance is established, measured and rewarded."
While every member of the C-suite measures some aspect of company performance on a daily basis, it's probably a safe assumption that many aren't measuring the right thing or don't know why they've chosen to measure what they do.
Think about it -- too many of us are preoccupied with page visits or Facebook likes or our listing on Google search. How many of us are actually focused on the human experience? And not just the experiences of those who are interacting with us from the outside-in. It's just as essential to measure the experiences and the performance of those working from the inside-out.
Measuring performance requires more than an annual review. It's more than just a measure of how much revenue an employee generates. To effectively measure employees performances, Weiss and Khan encourage us to first, understand their capacity for work; then measure performance against what they are truly capable of.
The Optimal CXM Has 'Killer Gaps'
When designing for an optimal customer experience, it's essential to look at what your customers want or what they find frustrating so you can build workflows that leverage strengths and eliminate weakness, while also working to solve problems and improve services. The companies that offer the best solutions didn't get there by being efficient for efficiency's sake. They did it because it's what the marketplace was demanding.
The authors call it creating "killer gaps" and are often those "that, with a minimum of corporate energy, and with the correct Archimedean tools, allow you to move your market in your direction and away from the competition." There are many companies that have designed an experience that sets them a part from others within their industry -- Apple, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue and Zappos, for example.
These companies have been able to achieve their status not only by streamlining workflows but also by investing in employee training and development. If you're willing to invest the time and energy into revamping business processes to improve the customer experience, but can't be bothered to train employees effectively so they can do their jobs better -- your path to success won't be easy. However, training for training's sake isn't effective either. As Weiss and Khan write:
Assessments are really only effective and useful when they account for how a business actually works through the people who make it work. That is almost always in interaction, not in isolation."
Sounds familiar, right? The era of the empowered employee helped many industries break free (or at least partially free) from organizational silos, which restricted information and prevented effective knowledge sharing. Recently, however, the empowered employee movement seems to have lead organizations in a different direction. Companies have begun to scale back BYOD or redraft work-at-home policies. While they have their reasons for doing so, it's usually because they failed to account for how employees work best and failed to identify their capacity for work. They were measuring the wrong thing. They weren't factoring in human performance.
How Did This Get Made?
There's a great podcast that I listen to called "How Did This Get Made?" Each week, film buffs and comedians choose a movie, watch it and then dissect the often absurd elements of film. They question casting decisions, address script nuances, and express their overall (dis)satisfaction with the end result. It's often hilarious and gets the listener examining cinema on a deeper level.
What if there was a podcast that examined the history behind products and experiences? Chances are analysts would discuss the various issues that went into creating products like the Pontiac Aztec, Microsoft's Zune, or Crystal Pepsi. Would there be common themes? Were employees trained effectively? Were the right people involved in making decisions? Were these products developed to meet consumer expectations that were never measured?
Sure, it's easy to point the finger after the fact, but there's a lot to learn from how companies make decisions and design experiences. No one ever designs a product or an experience because they expect it to fail. Yet many companies are setting themselves up for failure by not factoring in enough variables -- many of which can be controlled.
While "Who’s Got Your Back?" is tailored for business leaders looking to leverage human capital and build better companies, its perspective is certainly relevant to everyone involved in the process of designing and developing customer and employee-facing experience.
Image credit: Shutterstock / GST