In the past, organizations generally did two things in order to plot a course towards customer satisfaction: monitor project plans (e.g. milestones met, deliverables accomplished, schedules followed, budgets adhered), and track customer feedback.
However, in recent years customers have developed their own customer satisfaction playbook – and it doesn’t end with plans and feedback. Naturally, these components are still part of the mix, but today’s customers want and expect to be involved; not at every step (they’re far too busy for that), but regularly and meaningfully throughout the process. In this sense, customers have moved from passively expecting to be satisfied, to actively demanding to be engaged.
In theory, this is good news and a shift in the right direction. Just as smart doctors want patients to “take charge of their health,” smart organizations want customers to be involved and invested in their projects – because it leads to better relationships and better results. Or at least, it should.
However, in many organizations, the gap between theory and reality is huge – and growing. This is because in an attempt to bring customers into the ecosystem, organizations are crashing up against internal, systematic obstacles including:
- Ineffective, manually-intensive communication processes that are designed to convey information – not to enable collaboration.
- An inability to capture and execute on informal customer feedback, which is the kind that has not yet elevated to the level of complaint or issue, but is essential for proactively addressing situations vs. reactively controlling damage.
- Problems sharing ongoing progress, which only becomes more chaotic when (not if) change management becomes necessary.
- Difficulty getting new resources up to speed, which usually sends scopes sideways, schedules backwards, and budgets upwards.
Despite how daunting this situation has become – since all of the above do not just diminish positive customer experience, but are fundamentally antithetical to it – organizations don’t have to helplessly watch unsatisfied customers migrate to the competition. Instead, they can regain control by implementing and integrating external collaboration.
External collaboration is the new – and necessary – way for organizations to communicate, collaborate and deliver results throughout the service delivery lifecycle. Characteristics of this innovation include the ability to:
- Empower customers with on-demand access to their projects, files, conversations and requests.
- Provide customers with easy ways (e.g. color-coded tasks) to discover what they need to do.
- Collaborate with customers in secure, designated discussion threads that automatically align in-context with the work that is being delivered.
- Quickly configure and re-configure workflows that are specific customer needs, processes and preferences.
- Rapidly and effectively ramp-up internal resources and customer teams.
- Maintain a single project plan, and share only what is relevant and appropriate with customers.
All of the above are not “nice-to-haves:” they’re critical capacities and competencies that organizations must demonstrate across every phase, and re-invigorate at each touch point. Because in the new world of work, effective and efficient external collaboration isn’t just a best practice. It’s nothing less than the essence of customer experience, and that makes it the only way to achieve lasting, memorable customer satisfaction.
Clarizen’s ground-breaking External Collaborator solution combines a complete “one-stop” collaboration portal for customers, with robust enterprise-grade features that give organizations the tools, transparency and visibility they need to take customer experience and customer satisfaction to new levels. See External Collaborator in action by watching a short tutorial video: click here.