Improving existing services or creating new ones is only effective with a thorough end-to-end understanding of the demand from customers. This understanding must be anchored in empirical data on past, present and future demand and real customers.
Taking a responsible approach to service design means demand first has to be understood. So many organisations forget to do this, or just make it someone’s job in the hope that they will do it well.
All too often the air is filled with: “We know what they want”.
It is far too important for that: studying and learning from customer demand and the needs behind those demands is a central process that needs to involve everyone.
Let’s first look at what can go wrong when organisations fail to study demand effectively. We’ll look at the symptoms you can expect to see if your organisation is suffering from this.
Assumptions are made that we know what is “good for” customers, where future demand will come from and that current services match existing demand.
A lack of direct knowledge of customer needs leads to incorrect assumptions and from these come poor service design.
The misalignment with customer needs increases support and maintenance costs, adding costs to the business on top of the costs of developing the wrong service features and the opportunity costs of not developing the right ones (which few people ever properly consider).
Over time sales drop and service quality metrics deteriorate leading to a negative spiral.
It doesn’t have to be like this. It is perfectly possible to follow an alternative pattern in your organisation that leads to a far better outcome. Let’s look together at what you could do instead and the positive consequences that will follow.
Customer demand is explicitly studied and quantified, real customers are sampled and involved in the process to ensure demand can be predicted as well as possible.
Direct data-driven knowledge of customer needs allows the development of the “best fit” service possible within constraints. A better service generates lower support overheads creating a virtuous circle of support improvements.
A full understanding of demand leads to a simpler and smaller service that does all key activities well. This in turn leads to rising sales and much better quality metrics.
So how would you go about following this pattern in your organisation?
Let’s explore together how to break this down into some simple steps, how they work and build on each other to transform your approach to working with customer demand.
It takes time and effort to do this well but it is time and effort worth spending. The value produced in the quality of service improvements and fitness for customer needs will more than pay for the costs of setting up this process.
If you are not sure about all of this yet then why not try out the Toe Dipping option as a first step?
a) Customer Demand – arising from genuine customer needs
b) Failure Demand1 – arising from a failure to provide a fit-for-purpose service to customers
c) Predictable Demand – demand that can be reliably predicted, including transaction types, volumes, cyclical variations with the calendar, etc…
d) Unpredictable Demand – demand that cannot be reliably predicted
- Best matches (a)
- Eliminates (b)
- Is designed for (c)
- Can cope resiliently with (d)
If you want more detail, give me call. I can help tailor this approach to your organisation.
Good luck studying demand and do let me know how you get on, I’m always keen to hear.
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