In the final part of this blog series, we look at the importance of process excellence through specific examples of successful business transformation.
It’s common knowledge that every industry either has been or has the potential to be disrupted. As a result, more organizations look toward ongoing business transformation to retain their market share, stay relevant or become the disruptors themselves.
Business transformation is not a new concept. In the past, companies would transform once a decade or more and would involve an expansive effort across every aspect of their business (people, processes, technology and metrics). But the pace of change isn’t slowing down, so you need to take an agile mindset toward business transformation to keep up.
For example, employing a new technology platform or function was once a process that would occur over years, but today, you can implement more modern technologies within months. In many industries, smaller companies enter the market faster than ever before because legacy infrastructure no longer encumbers them. This shift in speed and the resulting lower barriers to entry contributed to reducing the lifespan of S&P 500 companies to just under 20 years.
All of this adds up to the fact customers expect companies to work smarter and faster in almost every industry to meet their needs. So, how do you manage ongoing business transformations to stay on top of the desired business outcomes and market disruption?
When you combine all of the elements of operational excellence — from the process assessment to people and culture, processes, technology and metrics — you’ll find yourself with a holistic solution that requires an agile mindset toward business transformation.
Process Excellence Should Not Exist Independently
Processes are at the core of everything businesses do. Without diving into your operations to determine what works for your company and what doesn’t, you could:
- Choose or configure the wrong technology
- Give tasks to teams that shouldn’t be working on them
- Have a gap in skillsets within your team members
- Have a process in place that does not make sense for your team or doesn’t add value
- Have processes that don’t take advantage of new technical capabilities
- Or build an infrastructure that’s cumbersome to change over time, making ongoing business transformations almost impossible to achieve
A few years ago, a bank reached out to Centric Consulting to update its account onboarding process. It was a long and tedious task for customers, whether they applied online or in person. Plus, the process was one-size-fits-all — it didn’t matter if customers wanted their first credit card and had zero credit or if they needed an auto loan and already had established credit with the right kind of collateral. No matter what, it was a challenging process to get through, and, in some cases, approvals took weeks.
To alleviate the problem, the bank’s leaders thought they could optimize the process with previously purchased new technology. But the problem was that the company looked at it only through the lens of technology, and even then, the organization wasn’t able to take complete advantage of it.
Because its leaders hadn’t evaluated and updated their processes to match, they could only use the design capabilities it gave them. They needed to address the user experience across operations, and they needed to ensure it was easy for both new customers and existing ones. For a financial services company, this can include any of the following, and more:
- E-signature capabilities
- Auto approvals
- Pre-fill abilities
- Save and continue options
- Ease of switching channels
So, at the end of the day, its leaders would have a pretty form, but it didn’t address the user experience or the customers’ ultimate need.
Moreover, while filling out an application online is great, they also weren’t addressing what would happen if a user had to call customer service or walk into the branch. Or, they didn’t know whether the new forms would even improve their overall efficiency when it came to the loan process. And they didn’t have cross-selling capabilities, should a customer seek help from multiple departments.
It wasn’t until we aligned all the elements mentioned above that our client could watch its application abandonment rate decrease by almost 40 percent. If you genuinely want to transform your organization, you need to align people, processes, technology and metrics to create the right customer experiences.
The marketplace is going to drive change. It’s inevitable. If you don’t build business agility into your business transformation along the way, it’s going to be outdated before you even implement any new processes.
Achieving Process Excellence for a Better Future
You need business agility to ensure your company can adapt rapidly to a changing market and changing customer expectations. Beyond disruption, everything from an unstable economy to stagnation could topple your business in the future.
Without process excellence, you might be managing reactively, regularly thinking on your feet to resolve issues that come up or losing efficiency because your employees perform non-value-adding tasks you could automate.
Instead, you should manage business processes proactively and by exception — you should have business rules that exist outside of the standard process to account for risk.
I frequently fly via Delta Airlines. After Delta Airlines canceled one of my recent flights, the company immediately sent me a text to notify me, along with three options to replace the original flight.
There was also a link to choose more options, which automatically took me to my account online. Additionally, there was a choice to call and speak with a customer service agent who knew about the situation.
It was a seamless experience for both the company and me. Delta proactively provided multiple solutions while also accounting for the fact I might not want any of the options offered to me. That’s because Delta Airlines chose to minimize workload from a process standpoint by reducing the amount of human contact.
Since purchasing Northwest Airlines over ten years ago, Delta stays focused on improving the customer experience by sifting through data to determine how it can improve processes regularly, such as communicating with customers via social media and even creating a better airport security experience.
Transformation is here to stay. And the pace of change is only going to continue to accelerate based on competition, cross-market user experiences, how businesses operate, how their infrastructures are set up and how easy it is for them to adapt.
Businesses need to set up their infrastructure to be nimble so they can be drive change or adapt quickly. These changes are not just technology, however — technology is only one part. At the core of taking an agile mindset toward business transformation, you need to change processes and people, and you need to measure your transformation to ensure you’re taking the right steps. Are you and your business poised to enable ongoing business transformations?