The APQC Blog

Better Process Management Through Improved Customer Service and Experience

I talked to Roy Barnes, author of ‘Customer Experience for Dummies’ about the difference between customer service and customer experience and how better process improvement matters for both. 

Roy, you have talked about realizing the difference between customer experience and customer service.  Why can’t the customer experience be exceptional without exceptional customer service?

Delivering consistently good customer service should be a given.  Its table stakes – a basic expectation.  Good customer service processes are the foundation upon which great customer experience is built.  Delivering great customer experience requires a change in mindset, moving from a transactional to a relationship management view.  It requires looking past just the individual pieces of customer interactions to managing them as a whole.

What’s the main reason that internal customer relations go badly?

Principally it stems from an almost complete lack of understanding how “other” functional areas within the business operate.  Most employees focus their time, energy, and efforts on what’s going on in their silo, their department, or discipline. Sadly, most employees’ rewards and recognition comes not from working effectively across internal boundaries but from optimizing their piece of a larger effort.  The basic organization structure of most business is one of the root causes of bad internal customer relations.

Investing in customer experience tools for internal customers sound like a big investment in time and resources. Do you have any advice on how to make the business case for this type of effort? 

Improving internal customer experience doesn’t have to be a big investment. The effort starts with being clear about the internal experience you want to offer and then mapping your internal customer interactions.  Next, make small, incremental changes over time.  The key to creating a return on capital employed is to understand what the true costs are of not meeting internal customer performance metrics.

 What are the best measures to use to track the internal customer experience?

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to that question.  The best measures are those that reveal your true performance to target.  So while “speed of delivery” might be the right measure for one group, “ease of doing business” may be more appropriate for another.  I will say that “proactive, anticipatory partner” is rising as a key critical predictor of internal customer satisfaction.  Just make sure to have a good balance of both leading and lagging metrics.

In your upcoming presentation you note there are 5 key tactics to get results in the next 30 days. Which tactic is your favorite and why?

Think small, act fast.  I believe the number one issue keeping organizations from achieving more success is scope.  Our appetites are larger than our capacity to execute.  I like thoughtful, limited scopes that are executed quickly.  I’m a big fan of 20-day touchpoint re-design sprints.  Building a rapid, ongoing pace of quick change is important for our ADD culture.