The six stages of a customer-centric transformation

Successful customer-centric transformation requires commitment and determination of senior management. The methods and principles of service design play a key role in this change. 

How do you know when it’s time to grab the bull by the horns and set of on the path of transformation? Perhaps the employees of your organisation feel distant from the company vision and strategy? Or maybe customer and employee feedback, as well as growth and profitability, are not at a desired level? All these questions have one common element – the customer; if your customer satisfaction isn’t as high as it should be, it’s likely that the whole organisation and its approach to customer-centric services need to be scrutinised and potentially changed.

In this blog post, we present a framework of a company’s transformation process, which has been adapted from the Forrester Customer Experience Maturity Model. This gives you a clear vision of how service design can help your company get on the right track, streamline processes, strengthen company culture and fuel growth as a result of excellent customer experiences, customer satisfaction, not to mention happy and motivated employees.

How does a customer-centric transformation process work?

It’s only rarely that you can pinpoint the exact reason a company has fallen behind the times and preparing an entire organisation to adopt a customer-centric approach is always a vast and long-term project that consists of multiple simultaneous processes. As a rule of thumb, all transformation in an organisation boils down to improving two core competences: the ability to plan and the ability to execute. This also applies in successful customer-centric transformation using service design methodologies.

At the planning stage, the goal is to make sure that the organisation has the competence to create better experiences, while at the execution stage, the goal is to ensure the organisation can execute better experiences efficiently.

The framework for planning and execution is divided into six elements, or ‘lenses’, through which the organisation’s transformation process should be examined.  

These six elements are:

  1. Vision and strategy
  2. Customer understanding
  3. Development of services
  4. Measurement and analysis
  5. Company culture and employee experience 
  6. Management 

Framework of the Hellon organisational transformation process. Adapted from the Forrester Customer Experience Maturity Model.

Let us now look into each of these elements and the measures they entail in more detail.

1. Vision and strategy

The first stage, which sets the entire transformation process into motion, includes clarifying the company vision and strategy from a customer-centric perspective. A comprehensive vision is always linked to how the entire organisation works, across all levels.

Once the whole organisation is on the same page regarding how to adopt a customer-centric approach to improving customer experience and everyone knows what excellent customer experiences looks like, it is time to move on to planning the practical execution, or strategy.

The strategy clarifies the achievements that need to be reached together in order to push customer experience to the desired level. If the vision is a lighthouse that directs everything your organisation does, the strategy is a map that shows you the route. By consulting the map you will never get lost or waste valuable time and resources on poorly defined experiments.

Clarifying the company vision and strategy also helps you make an assessment of the organisation’s current state, strengthens the commitment of management, and crystallises the “raison d’être” of your business. 

2. Customer understanding

In order to create excellent customer experiences, a company must have a systematic method for improving or gaining customer understanding. Depending on the field, there are a number of methods for gaining customer understanding, including conducting customer research, analysing customer feedback, gaining understanding through development projects or combining some or all of these methods.

In the current business environment, it is not enough to assess customer satisfaction every to every other year on a project basis. It is of utmost importance that customer insight is constantly and systematically collected and that this information contributes to continuous learning and improvement of processes. In addition to the above, the information must be utilised and distributed to relevant personnel in an appropriate manner.

A ship can’t change its course until everyone sets their focus on the lighthouse, which in this case is improved customer experience.

3. Development of services

The third method for improving your competence in offering better customer experiences is through development of your current services. Service design is at its most tangible form at this stage of the transformation, as current services and the entire service architecture are examined and improved. PowerPoint presentations and theories can take a back seat when everyone in the whole organisation rolls up their sleeves and starts introducing necessary changes into their services.

At this stage, the key goal is to prove short-term results. When you examine fast-paced areas for improvement and demonstrate the results to senior management, you prove that the transformation process is sailing into the right direction. This, in turn, blows more wind into the sails of change, allowing your ship to really pick up speed.

4. Measurement and analysis

In order to offer excellent experiences, a company must have appropriate indicators for visualising the pace of the transformation process. If the goal is, for example, to improve customer experience and increase sales over a period of five years, you must know where you’re at after the first year. 

In addition to using indicators that are suitable and appropriate for your company, it is also important that the entire organisation understands the data collected. This means that the data must be tailored into information and understanding for different roles and responsibilities. Does the data collected benefit employees in different positions and does it help them make the right decisions going forward? Can the data be used to create a link between customer satisfaction and the company’s success? Today, machine learning can be used to combine data in ways never before seen, which makes it possible to create brand new connections between actual investments and customer experience conversion, for example.

5. Company culture and employee experience

The key to achieving excellent experiences always lies within the organisation itself. In other words, during a customer-centric transformation, it’s important to look inwards and see the organisation as a service for its employees as well. A goal of service design is also to understand employee experience, and to improve the tools and services employees use so that they can work better and feel more motivated – the key ingredient for offering the best possible customer experience.

Job satisfaction and high levels of motivation are an important step towards becoming customer-centric: what is good for us is also good for our customers. When managed correctly, a customer-centric culture is one of the key strengths and resources behind the company's success, directing the company as well as its employees towards the same goal.

 6. Management

To get the most out of the transformation, an organisation must make sure to include customer experience and customer-centricity in their standard meeting agendas and operating models. Moreover, these principles should also be visible in the roles and responsibilities of your organisation. Customer-centric development cannot happen if employees are expected to work towards it alongside their core responsibilities. Instead, the organisation must appoint leaders and teams tasked with executing the change, starting from the management level.

In addition to the above, the company's leadership principles and mentoring must also support the goals of the transformation process and a customer-centric culture.

With nearly 1,000 successful projects under our belt, you can count on us

Here at Hellon we dare say we are not exaggerating when we state that we know what we're doing. We have helped steer nearly 1,000 different projects successfully towards the lighthouse. We have the expertise in tailoring each stage of a transformation process to suit the needs of different industries, as well as the knowledge of applying changes in a very practical, motivating and cost-effective way. 

With 10 years of experience ranging from small-scale projects to company-wide transformation, we know how challenging a change process can be for a company. Our projects are always done in close collaboration and with a hands-on approach, which helps both us and our client company commit to the changes and experience the transformation first hand in addition to through spreadsheets and annual reports.

When it comes to transformation, it’s always good to keep the following principle in mind:

Success is always based on the idea that the customer is the organisation’s common denominator and the golden thread that runs through the transformation work. In other words, the value you produce for your customers is the indicator of your company’s significance. Our understanding of what the customer will consider important the day after tomorrow is the foundation for what the vision should be. When everyone in your organisation is aware of the impact their role has on the value you produce for your customers, it is safe to say that your organisation is sailing towards customer-centric and successful business operations.

Read more about how to select and successfully collaborate with a service design partner in our Service Design Procurement Guide.

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