Quality Control

It might seem strange to talk about quality control in context of the customer creation process, however, when we compare product specifications to customer expectations, and a quality check to a NPS score, the similarities will become obvious.

We’ve created a slide to illustrate the analogy between the product production process and the customer creation process, as we’ve already shown on the opening page. Only this time we added two arrows to highlight the quality check-up versus the NPS-scoring:

Both processes start with an exploration phase: sourcing (l) versus discovery (r). And both end with a parting moment: a quality check-up versus a NPS score. In either case workers are specialized and remain stationary, while operating in a compartmentalized or siloed mode, with no commitment to or accountability for the overall outcome.

HISTORIC CONTEXT

If we go back in time to learn where this mode of operation came from, it points us to the 20th century at the rise of the product assembly line and the division of labor. These two forces brought about mass production, which drove down prices dramatically.

However, consumption did not catch up and stock soon piled up. Mass marketing came to the rescue, driving mass consumption by appealing to a buyer’s desire, rather then his or her needs. The commonality in all of this is the word ‘mass’.

As mass production matured, allowing competition to drive down prices collectively, the efficiency of the production process became critical. By introducing quality control, as an end-of-the-line safety net, the cost of waste due to product flaws could be reduced.

Manufacturers soon realized that by capturing flaws early in the production process, or even as early as the pre-production phase, they could prevent waste. Over time new approaches were being introduced, from Total Quality Control to Lean Six Sigma. Today, it is even considered absurd to rely on an end-of-the-line safety net mechanism, given the growing diversity of product variations that exist in one production batch.

customer creation

Now lets compare this to the customer creation process. While hyper-personalization and experience-based customer journeys are trending, the end-of-the-line safety net mentality with regards to customer satisfaction, i.e, getting a NPS score, persists. Early detection of a disparity between offered experiences and customer expectations is almost non-existent.

Because of departmental fragmentation, or siloization, customer insights, on behavior, intent, desires and emotions, aren’t shared amongst front-office employees, prohibiting them to offer unique and personalized experiences.

We believe it isn’t too far fetched to suggest that the current practice of NPS-scoring, placed at end of the customer creation process, is at best at par with the practice of quality control at the end of a mass production line in the 20th century.

Things will start to look even more ominous as customer expectations are evermore on the rise. Therefore, as we have seen in the production process, quality assessment of the customer creation proces, i.e., being able to match customer expectations, has to catch up with reality, sooner rather than later.

DIFFERENT PERCEPTIONS

Reseach by Savanta captured the different perspectives of customer-facing employees, the leaders who oversee them, and customers, with regards to customer service. Savanta found major discrepancies between how brands think they do and how they are actually being perceived.

And this is just one department. The perceptions with regards to the performance of marketing and sales, will be, no doubt, as conflicting as those about customer service.

The lesson here is that ‘quality control’ during the customer creation process has to transform from a reactive ‘after-the-fact’ mode to a proactive ‘during-the-fact’ mode, in order to advance from a 20th century safety net operation to an ongoing process of tracking and eliminating discrepencies between expectations and experiences offered.

CONCLUSION

Satisfaction should never be perceived as a one-off checkmark activity. Customer satisfaction is a cross-silo responsibility that should be safeguarded during every moment of truth, at the ultimate level of truth: the Integrated Customer Lifecycle™

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