“When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.” – John M. Richardson, Jr.
The above quote can be leveraged from an individual or from a company perspective, but you get the point. “Those who make it happen” are the ones that will reap the benefits. Look at all the products and services we have at our disposal today because someone made it happen. The list is endless but take a moment and think what life would be like today if it were not for Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), or Steve Jobs (Apple).
These folks believed in something special and spent long days and nights to bring to life a dream and passion based on what they thought could be a game changer for consumers and/or industry.
As far as what the future holds for Business Transformation / Continuous Improvement, I am predicting “those that make it happen” will include the following in their overall company strategy year over year….
1. Social Media Analytics – In an earlier article I talked about “Voice of the Customer” (VOC). VOC is a tool that enables you to define what the customer expectations are and measure your processes related to the expectations.
Given the explosion of social media with the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin, the smart companies will be using these social platforms to mine customer feedback and refine processes as well as the customer experience. The best Voice of the Customer is an actual verbatim from the customer that outlines their frustration but more importantly what there expectation is.
Today many companies have social media teams for marketing and branding perspective but it needs to be taken a step farther to be leveraged as viable Voice of the Customer data to proactively improve the customer experience and processes.
2. Chief Transformation Officer – The trend as I see it is a person who partners with the executive management (CEO, CFO, CMO and CIO) to take the short and long term strategy of a company and integrate it with the objective of doing things more effectively from a People, Process and Technology perspective. Let’s not forget that the People aspect is both from an employee and a customer perspective.
More and more companies are establishing a key executive leadership role like a Chief Transformation Officer for the sole purpose of helping with company integrations, strategic roadmaps and ways to improve profitability / efficiency. This role can also be a strategic pillar within the organization to be a filter and consulting figure to assure that projects, initiatives and mandates align and do not cause bigger downstream issues. Having the ability to see the pieces of the puzzle and how they fit or don’t fit is a strategic advantage that might save you millions if not a public relations nightmare.
3. Customer Experience Rewards – Most companies today offer some sort of rewards for doing something right for the company. There are also companies that not only recognize but also reward for “Great” customer experiences. To change the culture within an organization there has to be a carrot to move the needle and what better way to change the culture around the customer experience then starting a “Customer Experience Reward” program within your company. Now rewards / recognition programs can vary with some being financial to others being more recognition. Recognition for a great customer experience might include an article in the company newsletter / website, premium parking spot for a month or an award that gets presented to an employee month to month.
Now, we all know money talks. So your best way to truly get employees to “talk the talk and walk the walk” is to provide some sort of monetary reward. These rewards might be simply a gift certificate to a local restaurant, cold hard cash or it could be a more formal program where managers can provide points to an employee where as they obtain more points can trade those points in for items like IPad’s, TV’s, etc.
Again, depending on your budget you could go all out with a rewards type program to something simple as a premium parking spot. Every company culture is different so in the end it is what makes the most sense for your company and what you are ultimately trying to accomplish.
4. Customer Experience ROI Reporting – This holds true for any project or initiative but knowing what the Return on Investment (ROI) is for customer experience implementations can reassure the approach is working but more importantly sharing that success in a quarterly or annual earnings reports. While there is still the perspective that customer experience is hard to measure and validate, you can help tell the story as it relates to “basket size”, “units per transaction”, “visits per day/week/month” or earnings per share which are important data points to determine a company’s performance. More importantly it is establishing credibility with Wall Street Analyst but it also might start a trend that becomes a standard metric within an industry like Retail where EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation and Amortization) or Sales Per Square Foot are metrics that help tell the story of a company’s performance.
While those metrics are more financial in nature there is no reason that customer experience ROI reporting cannot become a standard for your company or industry. Social Media will only intensify with bad public relations happening outside your span of control. Most companies I don’t think realize that with social media they are not in total control of their brand and image. Hence, the importance of managing your customer experience.
While it is always difficult to “teach an old dog new tricks” those that embrace change are more likely to be apart of change and “make it happen”.
So the question is which one are you? “Let it Happen”, “Make It Happen” or “Wonder What Would Happen?”.
Brad Nelson is a Vice President for Business Operations for JP Morgan Chase, and has previously been an executive with CITI, ADP and Blockbuster. Follow Brad on Twitter.