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From Web to Wind

23 July 2014

There is no doubt of the immense power that IT can have in terms of enhancing customer experience. I am constantly amazed at the pace in which IT innovations are magically appearing within my life, completely changing the way that I interface with organisations… so it is with great pleasure that I’m being given an opportunity to write a blog about my experiences. Hopefully, I’ll be able to offer you a different perspective about the impact that IT can have on customers and citizens in terms of how they interface with services. I spend most of my working life (and tragically, a lot of my personal life!) looking to improve the world around me, so I have much to say on the subject matter!

For example, I recently bought a bicycle. Not just any bicycle, the bicycle of my dreams! Admittedly, I visited many different cycle shops to first ascertain the desired features and aesthetics of my bike, but once I had a comprehensive wishlist in my head, I set about finding my dreambike online. Lo and behold I found it! One by one, the boxes were ticked in my head and I set about purchasing my baby.

The website cleverly encouraged me to secure a number of orders related to my purchase. I duly followed their advice and purchased a study lock and new lights. Within seconds, I received confirmation of my order and there then followed a very impressive series of automated responses informing me of its status. When I teach improvement and lean, I’m constantly talking about the need for organisations to worry about Quality, Cost and Delivery, but I’m also keen to add a new dynamic.. that of “visibility”. Customers want, and actually, NEED, to know what’s happening at all times. “Do you understand what I’ve asked from you?”, “When am I going to get it?” “When I get it, what’s going to happen? What do I need to do?”. This company were great at helping me to feel confident in my purchase. “Peter” was going to deliver my lock and lights on Wednesday 10 July between 09.09 – 10.09. Text 1 if he should deliver to a neighbour. Text 2 11 July. Text 3 12 July.

So far, so amazing. However, the bike itself was obviously delivered by a different company, who didn’t offer such a service. This was confusing to me as a customer, having experienced something so amazing from one part of my order, I was now experiencing something much more inflexible somewhere else.

In fact, when my bike was delivered, it was delivered by a surly dispatcher, who deeply resented that I wanted to check the bike before I signed for it, (even though the box it came it told me to do so) completely negating the positive service experience I had had thus far.  My overall service experience was one of ultimate dissatisfaction.

So what’s the moral of this tale? Well.. it’s not enough to implement amazing IT solutions at points in an end to end customer journey. Organisations have to analyse the complete customer experience, from an actual user’s perspective, in order to really understand the service that they are providing – to ensure that customers are happy, from the moment they dream about their bike, to the moment they’re riding it into the wind.