23 March 2010

Discussion on touchpoint and MOT

Below is a discussion on "How are leading companies integrating CEM with Lean Six Sigma (or BPM)?" in CEM Group within LinkedIn in early March 2010.

DC: Is Lean Six Sigma BPM...?  It depends on how you define CEM? CEM is managing customer experience.  Is experience a process?  Or should we ask ourselves where does experience happen?  IMHO, exprience happens at touchpoint, defined as any interaction between/among 2 or more entities any time any way any place for a purpose. touchpoint creates experience and forms relationships.  It's a process.  When we enhance experience at the right touchpoint, we are improving the process.  The question we should be asking ourselves is, is there a way to quantify relationship and experience?

DM: The customer experience is the process and each and every touchpoint is an opportunity to make an impression.  So if your question is can we quantify the experience, then yes, we can use touchpoints.  This is the principle that Jan Carlzon used to turn SAS around in the 1980s.

DC: How do you see MOT and touchpoint?  Someone argues that experience is not a process, but an impression.

DM: I would argue that a touchpoint is a moment of truth (MOT).  This is something measurable, quantifiable.  Removing MOTs improves the customer experience.  This principle is behind the success of some of this century's most successful companies such as Apple, Google and Virgin.  I would consider a user experience that measures the customer's impression as a fundamentally flawed approach.  Subjective and unable to be accurately measured.  If you can't measure something, you can't improve it.  IMHO, those companies that use this approach cannot accurately say they improve the process, nor the customer experience.

DC: How would you define MOT then?  Do you mean removing MOTs does NOT improve the customer experience?

DM: A moment of truth is any interaction a customer has with our organisation.  It may be person to person, person to system, system to person, system to system or person to product or service.  The principle of MOTs and that Jan Carlzon used what that the more MOTs a customer has, the less satisfied they become.  So the principle in improving service is to first measure the MOTs and then remove or at least improve each and every one.  Look at the iPod as an example of a good customer experience, I think the maximum MOTs is 3, to play any song or view any media.

DC: Answers.com defines moment of truth as "a critical or decisive time, at which one is put to the ultimate test."  So is it any interaction, or just the crucial moment?  And why it's moment of truth?  Will there be moment of untruth?  How would you define touchpoint then?  For iPhone MOT, it's interesting indeed.  But does short MOT apply to human relationships too?  Is there really no difference between MOT and touchpoint?

DM: I believe any interaction with a customer is a crucial moment.  Would you agree?  Moment of truth is a term or expression used to define this interaction.  I am not aware of the expression moment of untruth.  As I see it, a customer touchpoint is a moment of truth.  If there are internal "touchpoints", we call these break points.  Break points are internal hand-offs, are also measurable and can be person to person, person to system, system to person and system to system.  In terms of optimising MOTs, this approach applies to people, system and products/services.  The less interactions, the better the interaction.

DC: I ain't sure if every interaction should be critical.  I once thought so, but then resources are always limited... it's unrealistic for firms to optimize every single touchpoint, because at the end of the day, all touchpoints may not receive the required resources to create positive experience for relevant stakeholders, and end up delivering negative experience.  This implies that firms need to identify key touchpoints, or touchpoints that customers really care, and allocate resources to make sure that things won't go wrong for each critical touchpoint so that the relationship will be able to move forward.  I guess it's something like "doing the right things right."  There is an article from Mercer you might find it interesting. http://www.lippincottmercer.com/pdfs/a_buildingbrand.pdf  Breakpoints... are we creating too much jargons here?  Why breakpoints when there is already touchpoint, or even interaction?  Again, I ain't sure if "the less interactions, the better the interaction" is true or not...  I think it definitely applies to products but human relationships...?  While I agree that quality is always preferred to quantity, but what if people are truly out of sight out of mind?

DM: I agree that some interactions are more critical than others.  The CEMMethod which we, the BP Group use, to analyse the customer experience categorises the interactions based on their importance to the customer and to the company.  After analysing the process and categorising the interactions (MOTs), we then look to remove or improve.  As you mention, it is all about doing the right things.  Thank you for sharing this article.  It is a wonderful example of a 20th century business thinking.  Here is the first paragraph: "Successful brand-builders consciously resist investing everywhere that their brand touches their customers.  Instead, they identify and then spend aggressively only on the interactions they know will have the most impact on revenue growth and profitability."  To summarise, they do not seek to make every customer interaction a successful one.  They choose those interactions which are most important to the company and only look to improve those, to the detriment of those interactions that are most important to the customer and to all other interactions the customer experiences.  So you may have a great experience when you buy your product, but after one month when there is a problem and you ring the customer service department, because they already have your money or have signed the contract this does not effect the revenue or profitability of the business, you get poor customer service.  This approach is inside out, focusing on the company brand and not on the success of their customers.  Superior customer service is not about the brand, it is about the customer.  Based on the fact that the two airlines they mention as premier brand-builders, British Airways and American Airlines, are in terrible financial trouble, it gives you some indication on whether this is a successful strategy or not.  Once again further down, they highlight supposed problems with the "do everything" approach-aligning every customer interaction.  Those companies that do this are some of this centuries most successful companies and include Apple, Google, Virgin, SouthWest, RyanAir.  They know who their customers are and they also realise that it IS necessary to make a FULL commitment to aligning everything to the success of their customers.  Let us ask the employees of British Airways and American Airlines whether adopting this strategy of aligning everything to the successful customer outcome "in the hope that many small positives will add up to a first-rate brand experience is really poor use of resources; difficult because it requires buy-in from the many constituents involved across the organization; limiting on making quick wins that can foster confidence and generate support for broader brand-building programs."  The approach being used by some of this centuries most successful companies is not Lean or Six Sigma, it is called Advanced Business Process Management, also known as Outside In.

DM: David Mottershead, Managing Director at Outside In Consulting
DC: Daryl Choy

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