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Confessions of a Process Maven by Carol Pudnos and Steve Duesbury

Updated: Aug 27, 2018


Before we talk about Customer Experience, I first have to confess something.  I grew up as a Business Process Maven... wholly obsessed with investigating, documenting and mapping infinite details about some impossibly complex global business processes...often for engineers to top it off.  So, if anyone wants to get into the weeds about process mapping and continuous improvement down to the 3rd decimal...I’m your gal.  


I am happy to say that somewhere along the line I started resisting the temptation to go deep.  Instead, I embraced a new passion - a passion for the ‘so what’? My new mantra:  1) go just deep enough to understand what customers are getting versus what they were expecting 2) spend more energy answering the ‘so what’ and piloting solutions.


It’s been interesting to watch the evolution of CX as it has grown into increasingly complex customer journeys, service designs and now integrated experience design; that promises all kinds of goodness up to and including shielding you from disruption.  My goodness.


But here’s the thing.  Underlying all of this is the belief that you have to know everything to do anything. Also that the more detailed your planning the better your actions will be.

The risk is that detailed answers tend to beget more detailed questions.  It’s not hard to keep asking more questions.  But are you really gaining more knowledge and insight?  And to what end?


I’ve learned that in some cases it’s absolutely true, the deeper your understanding the better. Experimental new chemical compounds...factory safety...new biotech product explorations...various compliance issues....all leap to mind.  


I’ve also learned that Customer Experience is actually the opposite...the more you try to know everything the less likely you are to do anything...at least not things that can really make a difference.


As business leaders, we get bombarded with input - most of it biased, incomplete or even contradictory. Without even being aware, we often gravitate towards data that simply reinforces our well worn internal narrative. As examples:

  • Our scorecards paint a picture of stability and perhaps even continuous improvement - albeit at the 3rd decimal point level.  All the while our front line employees are ever ready to offer the latest horror story of a customer interaction gone bad (in hopes of getting investment $ for better tools to serve the customer).  

  • CSAT surveys are chock full of rich verbatims - the good, the bad and the ugly - but lack the context to understand the issue let alone know whether the issue is really important or just easy to recall while completing the survey.  

  • Social media offers a never ending diet of unsolicited comments, but from whom – what is their role in the relationship?

We end up with more information and less action.


Why does that matter?  Without a simple, common image on which everyone can easily understand and agree it is almost impossible to get everyone rallied around and inspired about a set of initiatives that will drive change toward a better customer experience.


CX leaders need to connect the dots and fill in the blanks -- help your organizations make sense of the data and  get to the ‘so what’ as quickly as possible..


1. Get to the heart of the matter —  articulate the singular, simple, (billion dollar) reason to care

2. Tell the customer’s story — provide an anchor and context that provides meaning and value to the details.

3. End the debate —  build common ground with leadership that guides future exploration, action and learning

4. Inspire action —  clearly answer SO WHAT to prioritize and focus action


Don’t leave your stakeholders across the organization waiting for more.  Make it easy -  ‘here is what’s going on and this is what we are doing about it’.


None of this is to say that it’s not worth the time and effort to get into the weeds.  As I said, some efforts require it.  But when it comes to customer experience, the value of that work can only be measured by its ability to add clarity that drives action.


And if you still don’t believe me, I’ve got a 50-tab process map built over 18 months that I’d be happy to let you wade through.


 

About the Authors


Carol Pudnos Carol is a Customer Experience Strategist, helping companies transform their operations to deliver seamless experiences. Carol’s thoughts on customer experience are backed by over two decades of B2B business leadership in chemical, food, pharma and medical device industries. “Processes that serve customers the way they want to be served will differentiate your company and drive business results.”


Steve Duesbury Steve is an Executive Advisor on Digital Business.  Steve has helped countless companies from a variety of industries set in motion the right digital strategy for their business.  “I help executive business leaders imagine and create their digital future.”

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