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Is your firm ready to transform digital inside and digital outside?

We first published our report Transform Customer Experience and Operational Excellence By Going Digital Outside and Inside in September 2015. The topic has only become more relevant since then, as senior leaders and executives continue to experience performance fall-out when external transformation and internal transformation initiatives aren’t connected. I’ll be presenting on digital outside and inside, in fact, at the May meeting of AIIM’s National Capitol Chapter (check our events page for details).

The catalyst for our report was an observation that many BPM projects were either limited to operational excellence (inside) or customer experience (outside), but not both. And this is a concern to senior executives who want to strategically transform how their entire business operates — not just one function or department.

In the real world, digital inside and digital outside the organization should not be conceived and transformed separately. This is because the customer’s interactions on the “outside” of the company (e.g., a print or electronic catalog, a retail outlet, a sales visit) don’t magically stop at the corporate doors. Instead, the customer’s request or interaction always triggers some type of internal process. But if that internal process is broken in some way, the blowback can impact or even destroy the customer’s goodwill– just as surely as a bad website can wreck the customer’s perception of the organization. Similarly, beautifully streamlined processes that are operationally excellent, have great safety records and are fully compliant do no good if the channel the customer uses is broken or the customer’s experience over the telephone or web chat is bad.

Companies well advanced on the digital transformation maturity curve realize this reality and make sure their transformation initiatives look at both internal operations and external experiences. Most likely, the digital outside and digital inside efforts will be carried out by different teams with different skill sets, but these organizations realize the importance of linking digital inside and digital outside efforts, and take steps to ensure the teams are aligned and communicate regularly. Enterprises that haven’t advanced as far in the digital transformation maturity curve can still pursue transformation, and achieve impressive results but often struggle with it along the way to completion. These less mature organizations may encounter these types of scenarios, for example:

– the customer experience management team busily engages in customer journey mapping, with a focus on customer actions, channels used, and customer emotions at all key touchpoints. But they may overlook that someone inside the company must support the customer’s request (e.g., process the order, bill the client, answer product service questions) at various stops along the journey, and may blow a magic moment inadvertently through a bad internal process that touches the customer downstream.

– the operational excellence team may identify strategic processes and kick off a series of transformation projects to redesign 5-6 core end-to-end processes using Lean, Six Sigma, or some other transformation methodology, while forgetting to interview customers, customer experience teams or look at customer journeys. In fact, often the digital inside teams work in parallel with the digital outside teams, but never talk with each other and usually don’t know about each other.

Sometimes the very language these teams use forms a barrier and keeps them apart. For example, customer experience management teams speak of touchpoints or points of interaction, moments of truth, customer journeys and journey mapping, while operational excellence teams speak of Lean, Six Sigma, defects, process modeling and process maps.

The key to unlocking this lack of vision, communication, and coordination resides with the executives who lead these customer experiences and operational excellence initiatives. That means the CMO, customer experience executive, department or division head, or some other customer-titled executive must communicate regularly with the COO, CIO or department/divisional executive that is driving operational excellence initiatives. It’s essential that transformation initiatives involve both digital outside and digital inside, and that can and should be driven from the C-suite.

If you’re not local to the presentation at AIIM on May 25, you can view my presentation (a separate browser window will open when you click the link). You can also download the Digital Outside and Inside report for a detailed discussion. And contact us to discuss your own inside/outside digital transformation initiatives. We are always eager to know what’s working, and what’s not.


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