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No News is No Longer Good News

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 10/02/2019

Domino’s went and spoiled it. And then Amazon made it worse.

It used to be that customers were patient and okay with waiting on your processes. Whether shipping a product, going through underwriting, or applying for a loan, we were okay with waiting in the dark. We didn’t like it. But we accepted that companies put their information into our black box and the results would eventually come out.

And then Domino’s created their pizza tracker. Suddenly, we all had a view of the behind-the-scenes processes that we never knew we wanted. We could see when the sauce went on, when the ingredients were added, and when it came out of the oven. Who cares if the pizza’s mediocre? We just loved the experience!

Then Amazon got into the act, telling us when the product was shipped, and even when it was ten stops away. Even cooler, they told us when it was delivered and took a picture of it.

This changed everything. If Amazon can tell me where my $10 book is, why can’t you tell me where my $10,000 shipment of raw materials is?

Yes, Domino’s and Amazon ruined it for everybody in business. But they also exposed the ability to add more value to your customer experience. When your customer knows that her products are twenty minutes away, she can have the dock cleared and staff ready to accept the delivery, which allows your driver to unload faster. Which is good for you, since now you can do more deliveries.

Transparency is Good Business

It’s called “operational transparency,” and it turns out that it’s very good for your customer experience. There was a great article on the topic in Harvard Business Review this spring, including the quote: “When customers are cordoned off from a company’s operation, they are less likely to fully understand and appreciate the value being created. As a result, they are less satisfied, less willing to pay, less trusting, and less loyal to the company over time.”

It’s not just for deliveries. Another quote goes further, “When customers who were transparently being evaluated for a loan were also provided with an easy way to contact a support person with questions throughout the process, the probability they would move forward with the loan, if offered, increased.” It’s not just that a lack of transparency drives customers away – but sharing progress gives them confidence.

Whenever there’s a black box – you take customer information and they must wait while you do something with it – your experience can benefit from operational transparency. One bank found that they didn’t actually need to accelerate their loan process – simply providing transparency gave the customers just as much benefit as accelerating the process, and was far less expensive.

Another bank planned to increase transparency based on the Domino’s pizza tracker. In doing so, they discovered an opportunity to use AI to improve their processes, dramatically decreasing the time it took to process a loan.

Look at your own customer experience. Wherever you require your customers to wait, look to see if you can add operational transparency. It’s an effective way to make it much easier to be your customer.

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