YES! You too can create an Amazon-like experience of IT!
When we think of service, we often think of our experiences in retail centers. You go to a bank teller, you expect fast answers to questions about your account. Visit your mechanic and you want to understand the problem with your vehicle to make an informed decision on whether to go forward with paying hundreds of dollars for a repair.
Some retail centers are head and shoulders above the competition. Nordstrom is known for their exceptional customer service. Items can be easily returned without a receipt and any hassle. And the sales people on the floor go through extensive training to ensure pleasurable shopping experiences for their customers.
A friend of mine who used to work in the women’s shoe department shared a scenario with me that speaks to the high priority of service at Nordstrom. A customer points to the shoes she wants to try on. He would quickly return with the shoes in a box, plus three to four more boxes of shoes. The other shoes are either of a similar type or complements her style. This serves multiple purposes. It provides a total customer experience, whereby the customer can try on multiple pairs of shoes in one sitting. And no matter how many pairs she wants to try on, he would make as many trips as necessary to ensure she was happy. At the same time, this practice in service provided additional opportunities for revenue, as she was likely to leave the store with more than one pair.
However, over the past three years, online retailing has grown by “as much as 7 percent higher than retail sector growth,” according to a recent PWC report. So, what is to become of brick and mortar retail stores, now that online retail is king? For Nordstrom, their response is to try new ways to bring customers back to their retail stores according to a WSJ report (link requires log in).
What is behind this disruption in the retail sector? Amazon and their complete end-to-end service.
What makes Amazon so special?
Think of a customer experience that is so streamlined and effective, that no customer ever must call in for support. Everything your customer needs is within reach with a few simple clicks and swipes: total self-service. That’s the Amazon modern customer experience, and it is why bricks and mortar retail is on the ropes. Today, Amazon is the highest rated customer service retailer in the world, above Nordstrom and Costco – and you can’t call them!
Now, imagine the value your IT would bring to your customers (and your business) if you could provide an Amazon-like customer experience.
How can the Amazon model help you? To find out, you need to answer four questions:
- How do we design it?
- What do our customers want and need?
- What are the best practices?
- How do we manage it?
Answers to these questions will vary based on the uniqueness of your business, but maybe it’s time to start asking them! In the meantime, here are 5 of our customer-centric principles that may help get you started on the path to creating an Amazon-like IT experience for your customers:
- Principle 1: Simple. Words, buttons, graphics, you name it, that are not needed, are eliminated to make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for. Eliminate anything not absolutely required for the customer’s experience at that point in time. Make it easy to understand and do it with few parts (not complex or fancy). For IT, this means minimizing the customer’s work, which does require more work from IT. But, it’s worth it.
- Principle 2: Beautiful. Beauty is the quality in a thing that gives pleasure to the senses, mind or spirit. Since there is no universal definition of beauty, how can we possibly please everyone? We can’t. So, what we are really after is to make the end-to-end experience beautiful. No one would say any given landing page in Amazon is beautiful, but the customer experience is.
- Principle 3: Complete. This means that all the necessary elements to facilitate the customer’s process at any point in their experience are available without limitation and any more work on their part. Building a complete experience for a service means that every step has been completely thought out from the customer’s perspective. And, for every step from start to finish, the experience is complete, end-to-end. This can be very challenging for siloed IT, where handoffs between groups can be complex and redundant.
- Principle 4: Predictive. The ability to foretell based on observation or experience: it complements Complete. This is like in the Nordstrom example I described earlier – introducing possibilities the customer is likely to want, along with the ability to easily explore them. Predictive is always that little surprise, which pleases the customer.
- Principle 5: Leading. To guide something or someone along a way; this is Leading. Here, you ensure that you are linking each step on the service path to the next, for the complete service end to end. Each step of the way - the client must easily be able to go up, or out – happily; so they will come back the next time.
The bottom line is that every service experience must be engineered to be simple, beautiful, complete, predictive and leading.
Next, what you should look for in a technology platform? The ServiceNow Service Portal is a modern toolkit that can enable you to build beautiful customer-centric experiences (we offer workshops, and webinars, that can help).
Stay tuned for the next blog post as we cover this topic.
About the Author: Don Casson is CEO of Evergreen Systems, an IT consulting firm helping medium to enterprise public and private sector organizations to dramatically transform their IT operations. Don is a frequent writer, blogger and presenter, and has delivered over 50 webinars on topics in Service Management, including IT and shared services.