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Connected service design – The art of a fully-connected service

There is a disconnect between how companies focus on and measure individual touchpoints in the customer journey and the way customers themselves experience and react to this journey. And at a time when the customer experience (CX) has become well established as the competitive battleground for many businesses, ignoring this could be fatal.

The disconnect between the company and the customer

Most organisations will design (or redesign) specific elements they have identified as needing improvement, such as their online checkout process. They might test and retest a lead-generation marketing campaign to finetune it before it goes fully live. The customer, however, sees each process as a part of a whole. They see their end goal and everything else as just another step towards what it will take to achieve their desired aim.

Customers expect a frictionless journey, with each interaction seamlessly moving them forwards. So, companies focusing on individual elements while failing to take total customer experience into account can seriously harm their efforts to increase customer satisfaction and revenue.

The customer journey is a holistic experience

Customers take various paths through an organisation’s service, using different touchpoints at different times. They do not want obstacles along this path. Without taking a step back to view your customers’ interactions with your business as a whole, it becomes more and more difficult to meet expectations.

This is particularly true when you add brand marketing, which promotes and makes promises about your business you need to keep. It doesn’t matter how great your e-commerce site is if your frontline team is unhelpful, or your fulfilment partners don’t understand what you are trying to achieve. Any disparity between the promises and the experience will negatively impact customers’ perceptions of your brand.

The challenge is in developing the capabilities that enable you to create and operate a fully-connected-service experience. Read on!

What is a fully-connected-service experience?

A fully-connected-service experience should mean that:

  • Every part of the service experience is a great expression of your brand.
  • The service will still provide the best possible experience even when things don’t go to plan.

A fully-connected service experience:

  • Needs every touchpoint in every channel, including those delivered by service partners, to be optimised to deliver your customer value proposition
  • Should allow customers to complete their tasks and achieve their goals, or quickly reach a way to do so, however they interact with your business. (This doesn’t mean that every touchpoint needs to be equipped to serve any purpose, however).
  • Should be enabled by integrated IT systems and shared data (within the relevant parameters)

Great interactions are key. Your customers should not have to make the effort to compensate for your disjointed systems.

 

The benefits of achieving and operating a fully-connected service

  1. Increased sales
    These days consumers expect to buy immediately. If an item in your physical store is not in stock, it should be possible to order it to collect or be delivered in a few simple steps. Otherwise, your customers will go elsewhere.
  1. Reduced development costs
    The more the touchpoints are consistent, the easier a system is to develop and maintain. There is also less for colleagues and customers to understand, learn, or relearn. For example, a restaurant business has an integrated management platform providing a single menu and ordering process across customer, kiosk, and colleague devices linked to the kitchen and inventory management.
  1. Fewer drop-outs and customer support tasks
    If a customer books an appointment, it shouldn’t surprise the frontline staff when they turn up. Equally, customers do not expect to have to log in at multiple points across the same business. Customers get fed up, give up, and go elsewhere.
  1. Better data to drive improvements
    Businesses tend to measure performance at the individual touchpoint or interaction level, which is generally operational and commercial, rather than experiential. By looking at a fully-connected service organised around your customers, you can more easily adopt a holistic measurement approach and make more meaningful improvements.

 

What are the main challenges experienced when creating a fully-connected service?

  • Too much focus on selling a product and not enough on the product itself.
  • There’s no senior manager, such as a Customer Experience Officer, responsible for its creation.
  • Siloed IT teams with digital teams focusing on individual business unit requirements with no time or remit to look at the customer experience holistically or strategically.
  • No cross-functional view of the experience or roadmap so employees tend to work on individual components with no concept of the whole picture.
  • Lack of services led by or designed for the wider business ecosystem of the service.
  • Budgets are allocated by individual business units or channels, making initiating work on a joined-up experience difficult.
  • No properly defined or explained fully-connected-service concept, making it difficult for teams to gather the enthusiasm to work on it properly.

 

Here at Engine Service Design, we understand the challenges and will work with you to help design and implement fully-connected services to serve your customers better, grow engagement and drive new business. We are ready to help you reimagine the future and unlock new value. Please Get in Touch if you need a trusted partner with whom to discuss your challenges: one of our service design experts will be delighted to help.

Discover why Joe Heapy, co-founder and managing partner of Engine Service Design, still finds service design so exciting – and why it might also be the career for you.

 

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