Select Page

A few months back when I was speaking with the CIO of a retail business, he told me proudly how they have doubled down on all efforts to use the latest conversational technologies to engage with their customers online. My curiosity stoked, I decided to check out how well businesses are doing this today. Noticing that a number of leading hospitals now seem to boast of an online patient appointment booking process using chatbots, I decided to pick one such hospital’s website and initiated a conversation with their chatbot, which went something like this:

Chatbot: Good morning! I am Rita*. Would you like to see a Doctor? (*name changed to protect the identity of the chatbot)

Me: Yes

Chatbot: What date would you like the appointment for?

Me: January 21

Chatbot: In which city do you want to see the Doctor? (Did not allow me to type out my response but shot off the next question immediately….)

Chatbot: Please name the Doctor you want to see

Me (now that made me pause and wonder…..why is the chatbot shooting two questions at me? That looks like a bug. Did it just ask me about the city and assumed a default anyway? What the heck! Anyway let me answer them one by one in the order it asked me…. So here I go): Chennai

Chatbot: Thank you for the response. We will check if Doctor Chennai is available on the date you requested and get back to you!

Wow!! While this was hilarious, it certainly was very annoying. What is the point of using so called advanced technologies if you are doing such a lousy job of implementing it? Is it so difficult to think from the customers’ perspective and give them something that is simple, intuitive, and works?

I recently spoke on a webinar on the topic “Criticality of Quality in Digital Transformation”. If you have not seen it and are interested, here is the link to the recording: One of the things I spoke about is the customer experience aspect, how critical it is in digitally transforming a business and the related implications on quality in everything employees do to deliver a delightful customer experience, giving a couple of examples. As part of the Q&A, one of the great questions I was asked was from my experience how could one make customer-centricity ingrained into employee culture. I acknowledged that this is easier said than done and touched on one example only, for want of time (the first one below). I have taken the opportunity of this convenient blog medium to talk a bit more on this topic including two more experience stories and what I learnt from them. So here they go.

A Purpose-driven performance management approach to building a customer-centric organisational culture

This is the fascinating story of a leading Bank in Asia, which over a period of 7 to 8 years picked itself up from the rock bottom of banks with the lowest customer satisfaction ratings to becoming the best in their category, arguably even globally. This happened to be one of my Clients as well. As you would expect, major customer dissatisfaction resulted from many issues ranging from inordinately long product processing times to simply unacceptable responses to handling customer care issues. The top management of the Bank had a shakedown and the new leadership grappled with the problem head on, with the realization that they needed a complete organization-wide transformation driven top down. Here is an essence of how they went from zero to hero:

  • The new leadership decided that their core mission will be to become a “customer-obsessed” Bank
  • They revamped their employee performance management system from an incentive-based one to a purpose-driven one
  • The purpose of the whole organization was to become customer-obsessed, create value for the customer at every touchpoint
  • The team driving the core strategy came up with the brilliant concept of “customer hours”, essentially how many hours a customer was having to wait to receive a product or service from the Bank
  • Everyone across the organization rallied around the concrete objective of taking up a set of customer journey events or projects for execution every week, with the specific goal of reducing the customer hours in a particular product or service
  • The leadership top down across the organization aligned their respective teams to this common mission by putting in place a purpose-driven performance management system
  • Business worked closely with the Technology department to leverage the latest Digital technologies to automate business processes as much as possible and give every customer touchpoint a smooth, delightful and personalized experience
  • To leave no doubt about what the Bank stood for, they formalized and inculcated across the organization a “Culture by Design”, which promoted these values: Agile, Learning Organization, Customer-obsessed, Data-driven, Experiment and Take risks.

Coming up, my other two stories in Part 2!

Ramki Sethuraman