The successful rise of tech-first companies such as Amazon and Uber have taken service delivery and Customer Experience to new levels.

This has bought into stark focus the quality of service provided by longer-established companies. Customers now expect the same high level of service from every company they deal with and many are struggling to achieve it.

Companies try to improve, but miss the fundamental point that providing great Customer Experience isn’t about an ‘add-on’ function – it requires the company to organise its entire structure around it.

In other words, behind every great service is a great organisation; the quality of the Customer Experience is indivisible from the ecosystem within the business that provides it.

Not understanding and acting on this inherent duality is why companies fall short.

Services are social systems, designed by people for others to deliver and use, so it’s important to not only have the right skills to design services and experiences, but also the capability to support people across the organisation to develop the Customer Experience function and shape a customer-centred company culture.

The practice of service design makes this possible and involves four fundamental steps.

1. Designing the experience

Without a clear vision, an understanding of your customers and a definition of the future experience, there is no defined target for the service and value it should provide. Contributing teams and front-line colleagues need to understand why, and in what, they are investing their time and energy for them to be motivated and committed.

To help succeed you need to:

• Conduct qualitative design research and draw inspiration from leaders in related worlds
• Develop the vision, principles, and strategy that will underpin the success of the target experience
• Imagine and detail new solutions and design omnichannel journeys to meet the needs of different customer personas
• Define the value case to reassure decision makers of the rationale for investment and change

2. Defining the enablers

In order to understand what’s needed to deliver the target experience and the associated changes, the new service ecosystem of enablers, requirements, roles, and partnerships needs to be defined. In turn, this informs the operational design and implementation roadmaps with which to mobilise and engage delivery teams.

In this stage you need to:

• Identify the enablers needed to achieve the stated outcomes for the customer and business
• Design the service ecosystem and determine how each component will relate to each other
• Co-create the operational design and the defined roles required to deliver the new services
• Plot experience roadmaps to focus energy and sequence the projects that drive the step change

3. Scaling the CX function

Establishing a new Customer Experience or service design function within a business requires a level of support, integration, engagement, and tools that organisations may not be familiar with. This requires C-Suite backing and a dedicated team with the right blend of skills and design-thinking.

These teams are no longer in place just to complete service development cycles, or to give implementation of the seal of approval. Their role is integral to inspiring and supporting the organisation to invest in services and deliver them well.

The activities that help you succeed here are:

• Running Customer Experience training to engage teams in the design process and tools used
• Supporting the integration and reach of CX teams and helping them engage others in their role in the Customer Experience
• Engaging stakeholders in co-developing the change plans, roles, and responsibilities to realise delivery
• Creating the right structure and governance to support and empower CX teams

4. Shaping the company culture

For the team to function, the experience to be backed and the enablers to be delivered, you need a compatible, supportive, and on-side environment. Aside from the direct Customer Experience function, everybody needs to see the value and understand their role in delivering the experience.

If organisations can create a customer-centred culture, the experience and new ways of working will get traction and become established faster. A great starting point is assessing to what extent you are customer-centric today and to what extent you need to be in the future.

In this stage you need to:

• Assess Customer Experience maturity across the business and identify areas of focus
• Run leadership team and frontline colleague training in new ways of working
• Involve colleagues in service design projects to demonstrate the value of a more collaborative approach

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