Organizational Design from the Inside Out

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Global outsourcing, cloud-based computing, digital distribution channels, and social media have disrupted traditional forms of competitive advantage. Products are no longer the primary vehicle for delivering value to customers, and companies are turning to customer experience for an edge. But current operating models, focusing primarily on delivering product, don't let them find-and-fix their way to success. They will need to migrate toward an operating model centered around customer needs, which means re-aligning the ecosystem of employees, partners, processes, and technologies to deliver new value propositions.

While many firms have appointed a high-level customer experience leader to refocus the company, they have also undertaken separate and parallel efforts to bring efficiency across enterprises rife with product and channel silos, inconsistent processes, and a spaghetti mess of technology capabilities. Companies are turning to an emerging role, sometimes called a "business architect," to spearhead this effort. The problem they face is that while focusing on efficiency, cost savings, or technology rationalization, they risk re-creating versions of the operating models that are dying.

Customer experience leaders must team up with leaders to think about the business architecture and together design the organization from the outside in, using these steps:

1) Elevating strategy by focusing on customer jobs. Forget product/service silos, functions, and capabilities. Customer experience leaders must put on a customer lens to articulate the goals customers seek. Use ethnographic research and tools to refocus the firm on customer—not company—objectives.

2) Using customer journey mapping. Customer journey maps visually illustrate customer processes, needs, and perceptions over the course of a relationship with a company. They help stakeholders put themselves in customers' shoes by portraying a sequence of interactions. These maps vary greatly. Some cover an entire customer life cycle at a strategic level. Others provide more granular detail about a small set of interactions within a single process, such as a purchase or service request.

A company can zoom out to design future experiences, as packaged vacations agency TUI did to determine how emerging technologies could transform vacationers' experiences at every step. In a map designed to communicate a vision for the future, the high-level phases of the journey moved through phases described from the customers' perspective: from "dream" to "holiday experience" to "share." Rather than looking at a typical life cycle, insurance company USAA looks at key events to frame these journeys, such as buying a house or car, military deployment, the death of a family member, or divorce. These journeys cross product and process boundaries and help firms reframe how they do business.

It can also zoom in, to improve details of parts of existing experiences. A logistics company used data from its IVR system to create a visualization of how customers progressed toward their goals. The maps showed that first-time users were having trouble tracking parcels. The organization made quick fixes to problematic prompts and lifted the success rate of the service at the problem points from about 65 percent to 80 percent.

3) Using ecosystem maps. Ecosystem maps visually represent the relationships among the employees, partners, processes, policies, and technologies that support a customer journey. They help employees and partners (particularly the back office) understand the connection between their activities and the experiences of customers. When Charter Communications' customer experience leader dug into the ecosystem that was frustrating small business customers who were failing to install new software, he found that the problem stemmed from misguided sales processes and legal policies that hamstrung support technicians.

By driving past the customer journey map and into the ecosystem, firms will begin to bridge silos and politics internally. This opens the door to rethinking how the company is organized, and identifying capabilities that are missing or could be better shared enterprise-wide to support customers. While current journey and ecosystem maps can provide insights into fixing simple problems, firms should use future journey and ecosystem maps to drive target operating models, capability maps, and business architecture.

Paul Hagen is a principal analyst at Forrester Research, serving customer experience professionals.

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