It’s Not Over: The Disconnect Between OpEx and CX
The disconnect between OpEx and CX
We’ve written a lot about Operational Excellence (OpEx) here on the blog, from practical advice on how to implement a foolproof OpEx method in any organization, to reviewing and comparing commonly used methodologies. But as mentioned by our CEO Gero Decker in his 2019 predictions:
Many OPEX and business transformation efforts are still disconnected from customer experience teams within their organization. This disconnect has two significant risks. One is that OPEX will be increasingly sidelined or downsized due to the perceived lack of added business value. The other is that organizations will fail in their efforts to consistently deliver the exceptional customer experiences that will ultimately decide their fate.
Dr. Gero Decker, CEO and Co-founder, Signavio
So, let’s talk about those risks.
Risk 1: OpEx will be increasingly sidelined or downsized:
To understand the risk associated with OpEx being sidelined at a company, we first need to ask ourselves: What culture does OpEx foster, and what is its concrete business value? This is a common question when busy management and staff are struggling with a perceived lack of added business value, especially if OpEx requires input or action above and beyond their usual duties.
The short answer is that the specifics are likely to be different within different organizations, and hence the organization in question needs to develop its own definition as to what the real added value of operational excellence is, and should be.
However, at a minimum, businesses of all shapes and sizes can expect at least three measurable values that any OpEx initiative should deliver:
Reduced operational risk: greater compliance
Increased revenue: greater quality, productivity and speed
Decreased costs: a healthier bottom line
All three values allow your organization to deliver on its strategy as successfully as possible.
Therefore, the risk of losing focus on operational excellence can be summarized as a less consistent and reliable execution of your company’s mission. This leaves room for your competitors to become more operationally excellent than you are. Take two companies, with similar strategies; the more operationally excellent company is highly likely to outshine its less operationally excellent competition. If your organization falls into the second category, you can certainly expect bad outcomes overall!
OpEx and Strategy
Risk 2: Organizations will fail in their efforts to consistently deliver the exceptional customer experience
No matter how good your are at what you do, if customer experience is poor, your customers will find a place where they are happier. The competitive risk of failing to deliver exceptional customer experiences is clear. When one company takes a week longer to deliver a product to its customer than the competition, and is unresponsive, of course the customer will choose the company that delivers in a matter of days or less, and communicates easily.
But ensuring consistently delightful customer experiences is no mean feat. It requires an internal company culture that obsesses over its customers. This means that not only is there buy-in from the top level, but that everyone is involved in customer experience (CX). At this point, when every employee and every process is customer-centric, OpEx will be the secret ingredient that brings together CX-centric thinking and your customer’s actual, lived experience of your product or service.
360° customer delight
What does 360° customer delight look like? To get to a place where you truly understand your customer you must sell to meet and exceed their needs, not to meet your own. This means standing in your customer’s shoes and seeing through their eyes, or better put: Making listening to your customers a top priority.
Nowadays all companies want their customers to feel (and shout loudly!) that they create memorable, human experiences in a way that other companies don’t. What makes your company better than your competitors? It might be your products, it might be your people, but the first thing customers will notice is their experience interacting with your business.
Can CX and OpEx work in perfect harmony?
You guessed it: Yes! In fact, combining CX with OpEx is a must for companies that want to remain competitive. The most important thing is to have a company strategy that is customer-centric.
Opex glues your strategy to its execution, but your strategy should be customer-centric in the first place, thus connecting your customer-centric thinking to your customers’ experience. You cannot get to “outstanding” if your company’s mission is about creating shareholder value and not about delivering value to your customers. Customer experience should be the ultimate objective for any organization, irrespective of the industry, and operational excellence is one lever you can pull in order to achieve the desired customer experience.
Where Customer Journey Maps come in
Customer Journey Maps can help your organization to switch its focus to customer lifetime value vs. a single transaction. This will orientalign your strategy towards with providing the best possible long-term value to your customers.
Today, entire organizations need to align their priorities—and processes—by connecting them to a customer journey map. This shifts the thinking from internal efficiency to external, customer-driven effectiveness. The best way to improve your company’s customer experience is to take an outside-in approach to evaluating the processes that go on behind-the-scenes. By mapping out each step along the customer’s journey, you can see places where uncertainty, delays, or incomplete information exist.