Recently Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal entitled Scott Adams’ Secret of Success: Failure. As I read it, I realized that the principles he was talking about related directly to how we learn best in creating a better customer experience. Failure is how we learn about what our customers really want, what creates bad service and finally how we succeed in creating great experiences.
Goals are for losers
One of Adams’ key points is that goal setting is for losers. Instead of goals, he believes that people who implement systems are more successful. Why? Goal-oriented people are in a constant state of unease and failure, either never reaching the goals or reaching the goal and then thinking “what now?” Instead, Adams advocates creating a system and fine tuning it so that the system gives you the best odds for success.
As a Business Analyst, I am constantly amazed at how much effort goes into creating success systems for great customer experiences. Companies may start with goals, but the goals quickly evolve into detailed discovery, which uncovers the desired customer experience as well as business objectives such as revenue. Next, the design provides a system for continuous improvement when done well.
I visited a Telco recently that was working to increase revenue and reduce the buyer’s effort on the sales front end. They implemented three different sales methodologies until they found the system that really did the job. The first system that failed was when a super agent did everything — sell, provision, schedule, etc. — but that system reduced the time sales agents spent selling and forced customers to hang on the phone, thus causing more effort and less revenue. The one that eventually worked was one where customer responsibilities were split up, allowing the sales person to sell all the time, releasing the customer and moving provisioning and scheduling of tasks into the back office. Failure was how they learned and achieved success.
Failure as a tool, not an outcome
If we could embrace failure as a way to learn and not as a destination, we would be better off and more successful. Adams in his article says this about using failure as a tool. Managing failure into success is part of a process. Combine it with systems that allow you to improve and build on failures and you have a winning formula built on failure!
At Genesys, we have a saying that it’s okay to fail, but fail fast and correct it even faster. We are embracing the concept of failure as a learning tool. Just don’t spend months or years failing. Learn from it fast and move on.
Three things you can do to create a system for improving customer experience
- Partner with a business analysis team: It’s helpful to work with an outside team that can provide a third-party view of your company, understand the business reasons and requirements for changing and improving service processes, and capture those requirements in an organized system.
- Work with experts that know how to create systems that allow for continuous improvement across channels: At Genesys Professional Services, we call a system of best practices and improvement the “Gold Standard.” This is a system that you can take advantage of to implement a customer service project. It takes into account the “any channel” approach that is required to support consistent and positive end-to-end customer journeys. The Gold Standard defines factors from the project scope to the business requirements, use cases, technical design, assumptions and deliverables, as well as providing for improvement over time.
- Foster an attitude of failing fast: No one sets out to fail, but I think we would all admit that creating a great customer experience is a moving target that is changing continually. We need to understand both our successes and failures to meet the evolving and emerging service challenges of social media, recognizing and even anticipating customer intent, and creating great experiences across a multitude of channels.
To learn more, take a look at the Genesys Best Practices in Discovery and Planning services brief.
If you have an example, tell us a story about when failure was a tool for you to learn and grow and not a destination. Thanks for reading!