We hear it time and time again – the story of failure. The payment platform that fails on 'Cyber Monday', the power that goes out during every storm and every heat wave, dissatisfaction with NBN. It’s always something.
Every time a company, a government, a university, a hospital, a financial institution fails to provide a service, or fails to communicate sufficiently with the public – that public loses more confidence, starts to think of alternatives, starts to wave placards, or ‘write a strongly worded letter’ (as my mother-in-law still does).
We say this very tongue in cheek, because as a public, we should absolutely be motivated to act when we are failed. When the service we expect is not delivered, or when our privacy or safety are threatened. We expect better from our governing institutions and from our service providers. After all, we pay our taxes, we pay our subscriptions – we’re law abiding citizens who contribute to our community.
What’s the damage?
So, what do you do when you are a part of the machine that is that governing institution or service provider that gets it wrong? You’re at the mercy of a PR machine that’s working overtime but could still go either way. You offer discounts, freebies, your heartfelt and most sincere apologies. But when the dust settles and your risk management team finally return to their domiciles and send you their overtime invoices, where does your brand sit within the public’s eye? What do your customers think of you? How many did you lose – what’s the damage?
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Some errors cannot be predicted or avoided – like natural disasters, coincidence of misfortune, or sarsaparilla! No wait – although unfortunate indeed, sarsaparilla can and should be avoided (if like me you’re an enemy of the aniseed). It’s all about choice.
Most of the issues that have the potential to rob you of the confidence your audience and customers have in you, can be avoided, if you choose to put the right measures in place.
When implementing a new procedure, a new piece of technology, a new software upgrade, ask yourself the questions:
- Is it reliable?
- Can we afford not to?
- Where are my risk management team? Wake them up
- Will my customers want this?
- Are we accountable?
- Are we providing our customers with the service they deserve?
- Is it reasonable to assume operational success?
- What is at stake here?
Blaming technology for company failures, or for an inability to support customers and provide them with services they expect, is not an option anymore. Tech failure is on par with ‘the dog ate my homework’ because we can be better than that. We can own our successes and our failures, and we can at the very least make sure we have given our staff every opportunity for resolution.
Technology does fail, of course it does – it’s not immune to hackers, bugs, human error or wear and tear. But don’t let the story your customers tell about you, be one of failure. Let their story be one of how you succeeded, despite the odds. Let them talk about how they were given the best service in a difficult situation and how your knowledgeable staff were able to overcome the obstacle and deliver a result so they could get back to their own priorities. Even better, let them tell a story of fast and effective service, of quick answers and engaged customer service teams.
Invest in infrastructure instead of blaming it
When you’re choosing a system to teach your employees, to centralise the knowledge, truth and trust of your organisation, to navigate complex layers of documentation and to keep everyone accountable at all times – don’t choose sarsaparilla, you’re better than that.
Outdated infrastructure and the use of technologies that no longer perform is a widespread problem within Australia, as mentioned by the RBA’s assistant governor, Michelle Bullock in a recent interview with itnews on the subject of shaky software “Ageing and complex systems within financial institutions pose a significant risk to the efficiency and resilience of payment systems.”
Here Bullock is referring to the number of electronic payment system failures and outages that have caused significant inconvenience and losses to businesses and families. Whilst technology is in this instance the root cause of most of the problems occurring within Australia’s banks, it’s also one that can be overcome with investment in better technologies, in improved software and digital channels that evolve as customer habits do.
When you do find a technology solution and implement it within your organisation, take the required time and consideration to make use of the features that matter, train your staff and encourage their engagement as much as possible. You should fully understand why you have chosen this system and how it will benefit you. Explain and train your teams to get the very best from it, inputting as much as possible for the ultimate output. Once you have the confidence of your team, you build the confidence of your customer – starting from the very first step in their journey, to the last.
Build a model around your least typical customer
Confidence in your brand comes from your ability to keep the service going, to achieve results and to make your customers lives easier, better, more economical, more enjoyable. It comes from doing this consistently.
Sometimes our customers ask the difficult questions or have problems we’ve not encountered before. Do you know where to go to when your customer is not ‘typical’?
Systemic confidence can only be achieved when you first have confidence in your own systems and people, to deliver what you sell, or to do what it is you say you do, for everyone.
So, start there - with the building blocks - with a single source of truth. Choose technology that understands how your employees use it, and what your customers most frequently need. Technology that’s intuitive, responds and helps you perform the tasks that require a little bit more investigation and attention.
Manage your knowledge
If you’ve not considered what we call ‘knowledge management’ to be the glue that holds all of the value of your company together, delivering it where it’s needed and making it available to everyone, everywhere, all the time – then we’re here to introduce you to cloud-based knowledge management. It empowers your teams to build confidence around who you are and to give the kind of experiences that drive success stories.
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Investing in technology that supports your teams in every facet of their day is so important, so do your research but most importantly, decide to prioritise it. There is so much more data available now than ever before, but this data should be an opportunity. The more we know about our customer's needs the better chance we have of meeting them. And, the more we know about our own capabilities, the more chance we have of improving.
Implementing technology is just the beginning, invest in team players who believe in your strategy and your goals and who will work with your platform to better your results and encourage positive advocacy, trust and that golden ticket – systemic confidence.
If you’d like to learn more about building this confidence and truly delivering excellent, consistent service – talk to us today or download the KIQ Brochure.
If you enjoyed this post you might also like to see how knowledge management supports frontline and distributed teams.