How many times have you found yourselves discussing some customer experience issue, only to have someone say, “such a small percentage of our customers try to do that,” or “that’s not a typical situation.” So, you agree that it’s not that important. But what if it were important? What if customers only do easy transactions because it’s too hard to do complex ones?
What would happen if you dissected all the “edge cases” and the “one-offs” and discovered that the complexities that stymie customers (and break your processes) share common characteristics? That’s exactly what “smart customizers” do. They don’t just make it easy for customers to custom-design simple things; they take into account the difficult things that many customers need to do occasionally or that a few customers want to do a lot.
For example, customers may want to pay for different parts of an order with different payment types, or change a part of a complex configuration, or get guarantees about availability of critical components—even those being delivered by third-parties. When you realize that these one-offs aren’t really one-off, but are patterns of needs that are driven by the complexity of the context in which customers find themselves, you can begin to design your solutions to be more flexible, yet still low-cost and simple to configure.
The best way to wrap your mind around this concept of designing to accommodate exceptions is to take a look at a complex transaction that you’ve probably done yourself—a multi-city business and family trip. Take a look at what’s involved. Then ask yourself, “what if we designed our processes to handle these kinds of subtle, but real customer requirements?” Wouldn’t your firm be a lot easier to do more business with? Wouldn’t you attract customers who had particularly valuable, complex transactions?
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By Ronni T. Marshak, Sr. VP and Sr. Consultant, April 1, 2010