Organization Redesigns Must Start With Customer Experience

You need to provide a standout customer experience for your brand, growth, and bottom line to thrive.  Digital technology has changed the way we live, socialize, and do business. We connect like never before through instant communication – sharing data, ideas, and innovations. Sometimes the evolution of how we conduct business causes leaders to forget that the why remains the same—it’s all about the customer.  And any organization redesign must start with customer experience in mind.

Adapt to the customer experience for better results

The bigger and older an organization, the greater the tendency to insulate from what customers are experiencing – or even what they really want. Take the airline industry; many top brands are callous about what their customers care about. The result is growing complaints about everything from lack of sufficient legroom to awful customer service. Many retailers are also out of touch, making assumptions about what customers really want instead of analyzing attitudes and preferences. The organizations struggling most are those that won’t adapt to meet consumers’ changing wants and needs.

The purpose of organization redesign is to achieve new or better results. Whether that’s increasing sales, improving efficiency in processes or systems, or cost savings, the goals need to start with enhancing customer experience. Develop your strategy based on the customer needs that you are designing the organization to fulfill.  For example, fewer touch points, simpler payment options, better support, faster delivery,  or more product options.  Whatever the answer, it’s important to remember that organization design should start outside and work in.

Connect the customer with each department through “links”

However, things get complicated because not all aspects of an organization operate in terms of customer experience. Sales does because they deal directly with customers, but  IT might not. IT professionals want the organization to have happy customers, but it’s more abstract than a hands-on endeavor. That’s why good organization design creates links that connect the customer to different parts of the organization.

Parts of the organization that routinely interact with customers are a primary link.  Remove yourself one step further to create a link – and a link of assumptions.  Sales understands exactly what the customer wants, but operations doesn’t have much customer contact. People in operations need to identify how their work links to sales, which is directly touching the customer. Being just one link removed, it’s easy to see how operations is creating something that matters for the customer.

Establish links from sales to operations, finance, and then IT. By the time you get to IT, employees are clueless about customer needs because they’re interpreting through the departments that came first. However, if a redesign goal is to improve payment ease, IT can visualize implementing a software that adds customer convenience and improves organization efficiencies.  This makes it apparent to all employees that the design is being done with the customer in mind.

The next in-line recipient links to the customer

An example is a car assembly line utilizing the next in-line recipient concept.  Start with a chassis and along the line, each worker completes one very specific task. When that task is done, the process moves to the next in-line until the product is complete.

The same notion applies inside an organization. Consider the IT example.  Even though IT doesn’t touch the end customer, they touch the next in-line recipient.  This is somebody who takes what IT produces and does something to it.  Follow that line back, and you eventually get to the customer. Anything in that chain of the organization that detriments the end experience for the customer causes a problem.  The organization might need a redesign.

The most effective organization designs make customer experience an active priority. The commitment to customer experience starts at the top, with each department throughout the organization embracing it.  Helping stakeholders understand their links back to the customer is an important step in keeping your design customer-centric and reaping optimal benefits.

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