“When a crisis hits, we are forced to confront the truth about how our systems work (or don’t). The places where things could be done better or more efficiently become glaringly obvious. All of a sudden, opportunities for innovation are staring us in the face.”
—Larry Clark, Harvard Business Publishing, ‘Innovation in a time of crisis’
Section 2: Meeting evolving customer expectations in a crisis
People experience high levels of uncertainty, fear, and upheaval when a crisis hits, whether it’s a global pandemic, a regional flood, or a lost credit card.
It’s critical that organisations consider how to deliver communications that demonstrate empathy in practical and timely ways during a crisis if you want to maintain and grow engagement and loyalty.
Rethink operations to support an improved customer experience
Companies can only meet evolving customer expectations in a crisis—and beyond—if they link customer experience to operations.
Research published by McKinsey Digital suggests that next-generation operating models should put customer experience front and centre to ensure an organisation can enhance the entire customer journey.
Capitalising on the increased spend, loyalty, and business growth that a great customer experience delivers isn’t simply about frictionless, digitised touch points or personalisation: it also requires changes to underlying operational processes and the way employees work.
How well your team delivers its products and services affects the tone, timeliness, and salience of many customer interactions—just consider the impact of a delayed or incorrect order. Effective operational processes can make people feel respected, cared for, and confident that they’ll have their needs met.
COOs: it’s time to take the lead
Customer experience reflects how people think and feel about their total interaction with your brand—it’s the purest expression of whether your business processes, products, people, production, logistics, and technologies are actually working together to deliver value.
That’s why COOs and operations managers are uniquely placed to embed improved customer experience outcomes. Your day-to-day work involves identifying inter-dependencies across your value chain and optimising the flow of resources and information so that your organisation can keep its promises to customers.
Clever use of technology in the back-end lets you simplify key operational processes tied to the experiences that matter to your customers.
For example, by unifying your disparate Customer Communications Management (CCM) and Customer Experience Management (CXM) processes with a cloud-based platform you can enable streamlined communication processes and rapid deployment of crisis communications.
“If they [companies] focus only on the front-end experience and don’t change the back-end operations that support it, the new experience is unlikely to be sustainable.”
— Shital Chheda, Ewan Duncan, and Stefan Roggenhofer, McKinsey, ‘Putting customer experience at the heart of next-generation operating models.’
Section 3: Refining a plan to respond
The good news for operations executives that need to overcome the constraints of legacy customer communication methods is this: if you can innovate in this pressure-cooker environment, you’ll future-proof your systems for future crises.
In a series on the role of COOs in steering their organisations, Deloitte posits that operations leaders should take the chance to increase their organisation’s operational resilience.
In other words, shape an organisation that can withstand any major crises and continuously improve customer experience by embedding agility in your day-to-day operations.
How? Creating a more responsive organisation in the midst of turmoil starts with:
- Having a clear picture of end-to-end activities and how they support critical business services.
- Executing a vision for more modern, automated tools and championing their adoption.
- Developing an action plan that underpins preparedness and flexibility.
“Even as the COVID-19 crisis plays out, there are immediate and specific actions COOs can take now to help protect critical enterprise assets while shaping the organization’s ability to thrive in the future.”
— Rob Kaye, Olive O’Rourke, and David Sarabacha, Deloitte,‘COOs and the pandemic: Shape a more resilient future.’