Operations is Operating Just Fine

99.99% Up time and No Broken Links – What Else Do You Want?

Do you remember web sites when the web was ruled by engineers?  Before Marketing-oriented folks  forced issues like analytics, usability, and testing into the mix?

Just because systems are Operating within Operational guidelines doesn’t mean they’re Optimized for Marketing / Experience.  Yet often these systems are responsible for customer touch point execution in one way or another, directly or indirectly, and have measurable effects on customer value.  Call center screens and scripts.  VRU’s.  Invoices and Packing Slips.  These are the obvious ones. 

Here’s some others:  Contact Reason Codes.  Payment processing.  Inventory management.  Mail room and Address Correction.  Depending on your business model, there are probably dozens.

If you believe that Interactivity creates a new kind of Relationship with the Customer, if you believe that Social Content is an important idea, if you believe that Brand is more about what you do then what you say, then how can it not be a Marketing responsibility to make sure Operations isn’t just Operating, but really working for the Customer?

How much of your Marketing is wasted because these systems are not Optimized for Marketing and Customer Contact?  I can pretty much guarantee these systems were not designed with Marketing or Customer Experience in mind – just like your web site initially was not.

So shouldn’t these systems be Optimized, for the same reasons your web site (hopefully) was?  You can see how well that worked out.  What about the rest of the infrastructure?  Don’t you think there’s at least as good a chance, if not a better chance, of seeing the same kinds of gains from Optimizing the rest of the infrastucture for Marketing as was delivered through Optimizing the web site?

It’s the same idea.  The people who built the infrastructure, as competent as they are at doing just that, don’t typically understand Customers.  They’re not experts (as you are supposed to be) in copy and design for the target market.

Who wrote the copy for your order confirms?  Who designed the packing slips?  What committee wrote the call center scripts?  Who came up with logic for the VRU trees?  What exactly are the “business rules” behind critical processes like out of stock – do they take into account return rates?  Failed payments?  Product crossing from rehab?  What about check processing?  Is anybody shredding checks?

Do you know?

I know, I know, you have enough to worry about.  And this idea would break all kinds of corporate “silo rules”, there’s no Path to get this work done because it’s all about Process across different areas.

However, you have a secret weapon.  If you have a team Optimizing your web site beyond the cosmetic stuff, chances are these same people have dealt with all these cross-silo issues before.  They know the Finance people,  the Service people, the IT people that can resolve cross-silo issues.  They know how to manage cross-functional teams.  And, best of all, they are sensitive to Marketing concepts.

In other words, you probably have a Business SWAT team at your company already, looking for their next challenge.  Have you made that trip to Customer Service to see what customers complain about yet?

As you do some of this Service research, I think you will come to the conclusion that in many cases, by the time the Company hears about a problem from a Customer (especially in Acquisition), it’s really too late to do anything about it.  If you could increase the response rates to your campaigns by 20% over time, would you do this research?


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