Recently I had interesting long discussion with few colleagues and thought leaders from service sector Company about operational excellence for competitive advantage.
The question: How to become more effective service organization and achieving sustainable and competitive advantage when we are already innovating, best paymaster, etc..?
I believe below equation can help in development, delivery, sustaining and maintaining sustainable and competitive advantage.
SCA = OPEX + Innv + CXE + OC
SCA = Sustainable & Competitive advantage
OPEX= Operational Excellence
Innov= Innovation velocity
CXE = Customer Experience Ecosystem
OC= Organization Culture
Operational Excellence in service organization is achieved primarily by:
- Using processes innovation to deliver CX
- Measuring operational performance for CX & returned value
- Developing “right” organization culture
- CX focused processes innovation demands nimble processes “for the CX”& “By the CX & employee”. CX focused processes innovation may be defined using creative approaches such as design thinking and gamification along with processes improvement using lean principles & techniques, TRIZ methodology, six sigma, ITIL, etc along with active involvement of customer.
- Operational performance measurement should change from traditional “financial” and “transactions efficiency” metrics to customer experience measurement mapped to value returned in short, mid and long term.
- “Meeting customer expectation” and “Delighting customer expectation” experience delivery demands “right” organization culture. Developing “right” culture demands practicing “will to serve + will to win” with cultural harmony, agility and motivation by executives. It also demands servant leadership from middle management from all departments (further details in my upcoming book “Frozen Middle Layer”). Right culture nurturing and improving upon it demands dedication and belief in true customer service from employees at the bottom of pyramid. Culture of autonomy and empowerment of all employees to take “right decision” advocating customer focus. Culture of listening to customer and acting on it and not just hearing to customer. Overall right culture demands all executives + middle managers + employees involvement.
Innovation velocity demands organization to innovate service design and service delivery besides agility to adopt new ideas and make it “norm”.
ICT usage in developing employee friendly and customer friendly platforms to serve internal and external customers which help sin generating business + customer value.
Applying constant learning from changing environment, customer culture and taste, employee maturity to use innovative ideas into practice. Best service organizations in world are constantly exploring and analyzing service ideas to refine and redefine business models to serve internal employees and customer and applying it at lightening velocity to sustain competitive in market.
Customer Experience Ecosystem
Customer experience ecosystem is all about developing innovative culture where – your customer is co-developer of experience along with your employee.
Companies which invest in developing experience which is simple, creative and experience which customer value have always sustained and led competitive advantage even during economic downturns. Customer experience demands your core service design processes to innovate continuously and disruptively to develop sustainable culture. Paradox is that often people think that developing CX cultural ecosystem require “cookie cutter” processes to repeat same experience for all customers in different cultural geographies. Involving Customer + Employees and using Disruptive innovation + Incremental innovation + Lean Startup + Design Thinking + ICT + Common sense may help develop CX ecosystem.
Sufficient number of articles emphasis on organization culture to sustain competitive advantage so I may not repeat it again here. My observation is that organization with limited autonomy and empowerment at employee level and limited powers in the hands of middle management helps in developing nimble decision making, customer focused delivery culture. Learning of some of the major organization globally is that direct interaction between executives and bottom employees help in driving organization vision and delivery. (Further details in upcoming my book “Frozen Middle Layer”).
Operational Excellence is no more optional item for executives to survive company; it is interwoven with innovation velocity, CX ecosystem, Organization culture, etc. Sustainable and competitive advantage demands better customer experience which can be achieved with processes innovation, innovation agility, manpower from top to bottom to deliver long lasting + delighting customer experience.