Why Are Internal Business Systems Important To Our Customers?

08 April 2016

Customers are central to business, and internal processes are integral to ensuring a satisfactory experience.

Internal processes are the second perspective of the Balanced Scorecard, developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton, Harvard Business School, in the 1990s.

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The business model is really simple – develop a product customers want, tell customers about your product, attract customers to buy it and they, in turn, will tell others about it and become repeat customers.

Sounds simple but do we make the connection with our processes? We all think about the product or service, the marketing and advertising, the resources and staff needed to make and sell the products, and we dream of the money we’ll make – but do we give care and attention to our internal business processes? Do we understand how integral they are in creating a seamless customer experience?

In a service industry organisation I worked for one of the fundamental drivers was the ability to accept reservations via phone, fax or email. Unfortunately, all three systems were old and this outdated infrastructure, coupled with a lack of formal systems, processes and etiquette around customer service standards, resulted in frustrated customers and frustrated staff dealing with customer complaints. The impact on the business brand resulted in significant potential revenue loss and a weakening in the value of the brand.

The obvious way to fix this was to upgrade the technology and provide training on customer service etiquette. We set about doing this but the real issue was a broader understanding of the total business process and what we were trying to improve. Within the balanced scorecard the link is ultimately the customer and identifying our strategy and/or value proposition. In this scenario it was “customer intimacy” and understanding how that cascaded through the organisation.

What systems do we need to be good at?

We examined the touch points, from first to post contact. By exploring all the touch points we were able to identify a number of systems that needed focus:

  1. Distribution/information channels i.e. how were customers finding out about us? Did we have appropriate software to track this information and ultimately analyse it to continuously improve how we did business?
  2. When customers decided to contact us, how effective was our technology? Did it need to be integrated with website, CRM system, booking system etc?
  3. What standard of customer service levels did we think were acceptable and matched our brand i.e. phonecalls answered within three rings, emails returned with 24 hours etc?
  4. How did we distribute information throughout the organisation?
  5. What reporting mechanisms did we have in place?

Through the Balanced Scorecard framework, by examining internal processes, we are encouraged to look at the whole business process which ultimately increases customer and staff satisfaction; targets spend and focuses us on selecting appropriate technology and training systems.