When IT, Architecture and HR intersect with design of customer experience (and rabbits)

Posted by: on November 12th, 2019
Customer Service Center
Customer service at Muhlenberg Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania

You know the feeling of trying to get your customer questions resolved. You chase a rabbit until it disappears down a hole, you begin again, but before you can get a word in edge wise, another rabbit slips down another hole.

Where can you find a completely approachable rabbit basking in the sun?

Customer service solutions require good technology to create the illusion of pulling a rabbit out of the hat, or the hole as it were, but they also require lots of behind the scenes work.

First, that work involves people talking about what happens when people call, walk in or make an inquiry via social media or email. What takes place with initial contact? Who answers what questions? Who has the authority to solve what problems? How will the inquiry be tracked? How will the process be defined and measured in terms of quality, timeliness and budget?

Because customer-focused work typically occurs in all areas of the organization, a human resources professional is a natural facilitator for helping people to work together across silos to develop customer service processes. Bringing people together to talk about the customer experience is a tiny first step that can spark big change. Sometimes getting the rabbits out of the proverbial hole takes patience and requires a nurturing safe space.

Why? Because tending to the customer experience can be harrowing and non-gratifying, even with the best of technology. For that reason, you begin by bringing people together to shape what the customer experience will look like and THEN you begin to work with a technology person to design a system to fit your organization. Too often this sequence is reversed and people buy the technology hoping it will create the processes for them. It may, but it will not reflect the best fit because you did not design it.

And even once you design the process and fit the technology to your organization, customer service may flag and allow rabbits to run down the hole when the going gets tough. But that is where architecture enters the picture.  The final step in creating an excellent customer service system is to consider how people are physically situated in relation to one another.

Centralized customer service is a good idea because it fosters cross pollination of ideas and accountability for agreed-to standards and customer practices. Design of space can make a difference in how people learn from one another. Like going to the gym and working out near others, people model good practices and when they don’t, it is on view.

When customers enter a business and see a customer service center dedicated to their needs, they know they matter. When one person is unable to answer a question, another is right there to pick up where the other left off.  No rabbit holes exist in this structure.

When architects work with an organization to help design a customer experience, they learn what helps employees feel safe, supported and celebrated as front-line heroes. Instead of a sterile office space tucked away in a back office (where rabbit holes exist) a customer focused organization puts people who matter most to the customer in a confidence boosting space that encourages trust and loyalty.

About Nancy J. Hess

I help leaders pioneer extraordinary change through high engagement and whole systems approaches that focus on HR and People.