Skip to main content

Developing a Distinct and Differentiated Experience Delivered through Employees to Define the Institution

Andrew McMillan used to work for John Lewis, where in 2000 he sent a report to the chairman saying that their customer experience wasn’t as good as it should be because it wasn’t consistent enough.  He was then put in charge of customer service and led the company to its current high reputation.   Nowadays he is a consultant on improving customer experience and he treated us to a high-level view of his philosophy.

Andrew has never given a training course on customer service because he argues that it is a matter of behaviour and ethos rather than training.  The institution has to value the service it gives; value the staff who give this service; and use these values to guide the institution’s recruitment, retention and reward policies.  He emphasised the point about valuing staff; if your staff do not feel valued, your customers will pick up this feeling themselves.

This presentation did not go into many details, focusing instead on the core ethos and illustrating this with several entertaining (and occasionally cheesy) video clips.  However, Andrew did make clear that the commitment to the customer experience has to be more than lip service.  If staff do not have sufficient training in the actual services on offer, if the services themselves are poor, if the support channels are unhelpful, nice words will be seen as the empty promises they are.

A good customer experience requires the actual product or service; the service channel (how easy are you to access?); clear processes (how easy are you to engage with?); and positive engagement (how did it feel?).  Leaders need to follow six steps to put this in place:  Define what you want; Measure what you deliver; Communicate the plan; Lead by example; Reward & recognise desired behaviours; Recruit and induct staff accordingly.

Although Andrew has recently worked with some universities, he didn’t attune his presentation much to the HE sector.  He did point out that the lessons could be applied either to the reputation of the university as a whole or to the reputation of the IT division within the larger institution.  One question from the audience asked how much scope middle management could have to drive such an initiative if it did not have active support from senior management.  Andrew replied that it is possible to instigate this sort of policy for your own section and that might inspire other parts of the institution but that this would be hard.

I was really enthused by this talk.  At the same time, once you look beyond the videos and adverts, it is clear that a proper commitment to customer experience is a mammoth undertaking.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

2016 has been a good year

So much has happened over the last year with our Enterprise Architecture practice that it's hard to write a succinct summary.  For my day-to-day experience as enterprise architect, the biggest change is that I now have a team to work with.  This time last year, I was in the middle of a 12-month secondment to create the EA practice, working mainly on my own.  Now my post has been made permanent and I have recruited two members of staff to help meet the University's architectural needs.

I have spent a lot of the year meeting people, listening to their concerns and explaining how architecture can help them.  This communication remains vital, the absolute core of what we do and we will continue to meet people in this way.  We also talk to people in other Universities in order to learn from what they are doing and to share our own experience back.  A highlight in this regard was my trip to the USA last January.

Our biggest deliverable for the past year was the design of the data wa…

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.


This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…

A brief summary of our major initiatives

I notice that in 2016 I wrote 34 posts on this blog.  This is only my fifth post in 2017 and we're already three-quarters of the way through the year.  Either I've suddenly got lazier, or else I've had less time to spend writing here.  As I'm not inclined to think of myself as especially lazy, I'm plumping for the latter explanation.

There really is a lot going on.  The University has several major initiatives under way, many of which need input from the Enterprise Architecture section.

The Service Excellence programme is overhauling (the buzzword is "transforming") our administrative processes for HR, Finance, and Student Administration.  Linked to this is a programme to procure an integrated ERP system to replace the adminstrative IT systems. 

Enabling Digital Transformation is a programme to put the middleware and architecture in place so that we can make our processes "digital first".  We're implementing an API framework, a notification…