Humans have evolved to solve problems that need solving now rather than waiting for natural selection to ‘breed in’ the solution. Certainly customers are less willing than ever to wait several generations until their needs are met.
The first step in your staff augmentation programme is to release the shackles that constrain them from acting instinctively when it comes to helping others. Locking staff into a set of cast iron service processes does more harm than good.
Next step is to provide the staff with decision making tools in the form of customer information. Not just the standard historical CRM data but the real-time social data as well. And to present that data in a manner that enables your staff to make real-time decisions that will return the customer to a positive disposition or to for example move the customer from loyalty to advocacy status.
Staff augmented with decision support tools can take service to the next level. In the digital economy, service is the new sales, so this is worth considering.
I read with horror in the latest edition of the Harvard Business Review of the ascendency of the Chief Marketing Technologist. And it’s not just the ascendency that is a shocker but the extent to which they apparently already populate the world’s leading firms.
Next up we will no doubt read about the Chief Talent Technologist, Chief Sales Technologist, Chief Catering Technologist and so on, whose roles are to act as ‘bridgers’ between the IT department and the business functions.
But there are a couple of realities that will scupper this quasi-digital view of organisations. Firstly IT is becoming a non-issue. There are no actual consumers of IT services only consumers of business services. So this will ultimately turn the IT function into a service-consumer dating agency.
Secondly the value in having a CIO was never about the technology it was and is (or should be) about extracting insight from data. Admittedly when your data pool resided on your own mainframe computer it made some sense to ask the CIO to manage that device. But through poor boardroom understanding of both data-driven insight and technology, the CIO role morphed into one of IT management.
These leadership roles du jour including that of Chief Digital Officer are simply a sticking plaster solution applied to the chronic problem of boardroom digital (in its traditional sense) illiteracy.
HBR by promoting such pop-up CxO roles to get around the discomfort of digital illiteracy and the CIO really being an IT manager is simply promoting organisational dysfunctionality.
Imagine your IT function is a hotel. Is it Fawlty Towers or the Burj Al Arab?
Are the guests really impressed by the skill with which your plumber embarks on dismantling the bathroom sink whilst the guest is mid-shower?
Do they delight in the opportunity to engage with a multi-field user interface that enables guests to capitalise on the ability to fine tune their elevator experience (speed, musak choice, party size, arrival time etc.) rather than just pressing summon and floor number buttons?
Despite these fine examples of engineering excellence they do not actually enhance the customer experience. More often than not users have little interest in the detail of the service.
Great magicians are impressive because they provide captivating rather than irritating experiences. They also keep their techniques secret. Be a digital wizard and not a tech show off!
In the grand scheme of things we haven’t been on the planet that long. In anthropological terms we are still hunter gatherers. If you have a fall out with a colleague you just wander off with your mates and start a new tribe.
Thanks to the agricultural revolution we have grown from about seven million people to seven billion. Walking away from the tribe is not so easy in the city or in an organisation where the culture is confrontational but the economic handcuffs are too appealing to take off.
Perhaps we should take a look around at some of our fellow animals who have passed the probationary period in terms of whether they will be a permanent feature on the planet. Ants come to mind. They have discovered over hundreds of millions of years that colonies which take a collaborative approach fair better than those that embrace an aggressive modus operandi. That been borne out by the absence of non-collaborating ant colonies today.
So leaders need to recognise this when setting the cultural tone. Those leaders that cultivate friction within their organisations are fighting nature. And nature doesn’t do losing.