Optimising Operational functions for our clients is one of our core consulting propositions; it stems from our practitioner-led consultants having years of experience in ops teams either processing widgets at the coalface, or implementing change to drive efficiency, propositional development or technology enablement. Instinctively we know what good looks like and our intuition and experience tells us how to get there. It’s not always the same answer as it’s not always the same problem, so we tailor our operational optimisation consultancy to each client and their specific needs.

Over the past few years we’ve seen promises made through the great digital revolution, which have frequently failed to deliver to our clients the customer satisfaction and efficiency improvements expected.  We’ve seen Outsourcing and Offshoring pursued and Robotics designed to automate previously manually intensive processes. Many of these have delivered benefits, often to the cost base, but sometimes at the expense of the customer experience. We’ll continue to see digital innovation throughout 2022 and beyond as Machine Learning evolves (and learns!), Artificial Intelligence takes a more active role in mainstream customer servicing activities and technology adoption amongst the customer demographic begins to shift customer-invoked servicing activity to self-service channels.

Yet, there remains some fundamentals that can deliver significant benefits to customers and service providers alike and they haven’t changed in the past ten years – they’ll continue to be as important in 2022 as they’ve always been.

Here are just the top five we often work with our clients to encourage and help them focus on:

  1. Design products that at their heart are simple to understand and simple to service. Avoid the temptation to build esoteric features that drive inefficiency in the front and back office, when take up is rarely as expected, but complexity and non-standard processing drives an increasing ‘cost to serve’. We appreciate that competitive advantage can often be derived from the value-add product features that no-one else has, but understanding potential adoption rates is as important as knowing what impact it might have upon the back office (see 4 below!)
  2. Embrace the core concepts of basic process efficiency; eliminate hand offs between teams, remove waiting times and non-value add activities, use technology for its intended purpose and avoid building local solutions that only one person knows how to fix when it inevitably breaks (we’ve all been there…).  Ensure that resource demand and supply is well understood and avoid surprises by projecting volume fluctuations influenced by both internal and external factors. Having a holistic understanding of process design in the context of volumetrics is vital to having optimised, customer-centric servicing activities.
  3. Deliver technology capability but invest in changing attitudes and behaviours. If you build it, it doesn’t mean they come. You need to cajole, encourage and sometimes even incentivise customers to adopt alternative and more efficient channels. You need to keep talking to them about it and ensure that when they use it, it’s intuitive, it works (you’d be surprised…) and it’s available.
  4. Join departments together; service is not just the responsibilities of the front, middle and back office Ops functions. It extends into the sales force and the distribution capability, into Product and Proposition, IT and Change. Everyone should understand the value of process efficiency and how to deliver a first class customer experience.
  5. Understand the As-Is servicing environment. It seems a contrite suggestion, but sometimes that consistent understanding across employees, teams and functions simply doesn’t exist. Downstream steps aren’t understood from one team to the next, resulting in inaccurate assumptions being made and re-work being required .We can’t emphasise enough the value of simply understanding how processes are performed today to provide the foundation for building enhanced processes that everyone feels empowered to help influence and change for the better.

Process excellence is comprised of a number of important factors and the utopian vision of a world of fully digital customer journeys with robots, automation and AI at the heart of a compelling service proposition is rarely the reality. With our help, we can bring a holistic view of operational efficiency to your business, focusing on the areas that merit the most attention and ensure that any investment in change is one that delivers the most effective return.

Get in touch with us at Simplify today to see how we can help.

Carl Woodward