As organizations try to increase their organizational maturity in customer experience, try to improve the experiences that they deliver to their customers, and try to achieve other business goals that they may have, we have seen lately many cases that we have termed “band-aided Experience Design”.
While band-aids serve a great purpose in life, the problem with them in a world where experience is paramount to success is that there can be a tendency to keep band-aiding, to a point where peeling them off can be an overwhelming task. Not to mention, that what was really wrong, the true problem, can get increasingly difficult to heal.
What do we mean by band-aided CX? Well, it refers to the moment that decisions are made with a short sight as to achieving an outcome. A very simple “if we do this, it will get us to the goal” with no vision outside of that trajectory. A way to “stop-the-bleeding”, but with no real thought for whether or not that way is the best option available.
Indeed, it is important to understand that a quick fix is often needed while longer term changes are created. However, where we often see organizations fail is in deciding upon the right interim solution, or quick win, that will move them towards a genuinely better experience.
The truth is “fixing”, and “improving” all have a scale. You can make little changes that have a certain impact and bigger changes that have a certain impact as well. The key is to understand what the impact will be on your goals and the experience itself, balanced with critical factors, such as the effort and resources required or the time to deliver versus the impact, and then to purposefully decide which is the best option.
To explain CX band-aiding further here are some examples we have seen across various industries that we work heavily in.
Say hello and hold
This one, unfortunately, we have seen many times across smaller organizations to large global brands. In Customer Service and especially the help desk world, there are a slew of traditional trending metrics that an organization looks at. One of these, is Average Speed of Answer (ASA).
It has been demonstrated many times that customers do not like long wait times. Of course, there are clear reasons for this that we can all understand. For example, you are usually calling them in a frustrated moment when something is not working as it should, or you are being hindered from doing what you need to. Waiting in these moments only intensifies the frustration, especially when there is nothing to do so all that you focus on is the wait, with an already narrowed and in negative-effect, mind-set. Or, even worse, the wait experience is made even more annoying by the organization.
Organizations trying to increase the customer service experience often try and fix this issue as a part of their endeavors. They tend to set themselves goals around ensuring the speed of answer is within a certain timeframe.
What happens? Well, the Support Engineers get told of their goal time to answer, they are measured on it, and the tool in place logs all these times automatically, giving the leader in charge a lovely dashboard or score card of red, yellow and green, to look at.
Soon after, the scorecard is nice and green for average speed of answer. Nice. The goal has been met.
But what actually happened? The calls were answered in the logged time, but the response to the customer was “Hello, my name is John, may I put you on hold please.” Then a nice hold tone, or maybe not so nice listening to some organization’s selected music these days, comes on. Many times the engineer may not even wait for a response. Now the customer is left even more frustrated. But don’t worry, the score card was nice and green. An added key takeaway here, is to remember the importance of truly enabling your employees to deliver the experience, not just focus on a number at all costs.
Hide the number, then they won’t call
I can’t help but include one more in Customer Service; one that we see also having impact internally within IT organizations. Many times an organization might be trying to reduce calls to the IT Help Desk. There are several complexities in IT that a whole library of books could be written about, but one common reason for this includes the fact that they see these calls as a cost that may be easier to drive out.
When a goal to drive down calls is set, of course, fixing the actual experiences causing the issues is what organizations aim to do. However, in the meantime, or as a short term solution to achieve the goal in the timeframe set, one effort we have seen is to “hide” the phone number somewhere on the IT help site - usually somewhere after several self-help documents that they hope will solve the problem.
Again, the goal is achieved - the organization miraculously sees fewer calls to the Help Desk.
But what actually happens? The employees are frustrated and cannot get back to productivity quickly. So while this action is easier in the short term, the impact of not understanding how to balance your support options and take actions towards creating a more optimal support environment produces knock-on impacts and effects that can be even more detrimental.
Changing the video conference experience, or maybe just a spring clean
There are so many examples to pick from, but this one is also very common. The good old video conferencing experience. Several corporations are suffering from unproductive, un-engaging conference experiences. The rooms are poorly designed, the technology is a mess both visually and functionally, scheduling is a nightmare, getting started takes at least 10 minutes for everyone to have audio working, the physical and digital design does not come together cohesively…the list goes on.
In this case, the CIO or leadership are frustrated with messy rooms, and what seems like multiple disconnected technologies. Then, they ask for someone to tidy it up, maybe add a different camera, screen, or wireless sharing option. They already know what they want; some solution to fix whatever the issue in their mind is. The question they ask is not “what is the best way to optimize this experience through improvement, and innovation”, but rather, “how quickly can you get me this technology, and how much will it cost to just put it in there.”
What happens? Well, this problem has usually arisen from previous band-aids. You know, the classic “Oh this technology will fix it”, so it gets added to the already messy ecosystem.
The new technology is put in, it doesn’t mesh with the rest of the user journey easily, it has its own issues in terms of operations and only adds to the disjointed feel. Having sat in multiple conferencing war-rooms to address the experience and operations of video conferencing, and having spent time researching the experience, this “quick-win” has often seen a more detrimental impact when other aspects are not taken into consideration.
There is no doubt that experience is complex. There are several interaction points, front end and back end, with direct and indirect impacts. However, understanding the experience, what success is, and what the impacts could be before deciding which action to take can lead to a much more successful gain on all fronts – for the business, the customers, and the employees that have to implement and maintain the outcome of these decisions.
While these quick solutions may look as though they solve the issue, or meet the goal, it is worth remembering that short-sighted band-aids could:
- Lead to unintended consequences.
- Lead to a suboptimal use of resources.
- Not achieve the maximum viable impact.
More importantly, it is worth realizing that efforts to make better decisions do not need to be heavy weight, take a huge amount of time, or cost a ton of money. You can start by:
- Understanding the purpose of what you are creating, or, improving.
- Understanding who the audiences are and their goals.
- Understanding what success really is for them.
- Evaluating the current state against what success is.
- Making purposeful choices in investment and decisions to maximize the chance of success and impact.
This effort can be as in-depth as needed, or at the very least, be a moment to think it through cohesively. After all, a few days of thought, talking to people, and understanding, can help you make smarter decisions that can impact hours of productivity, give dollars upon dollars in savings, and achieve a genuinely better experience for your customers.