Our homes are connected to the latest services and we talk to a box to select music, watch movies and turn on the lights. We carry the latest technology in our phones and on our wrists. So many interactions in our lives have become so effortless, but why are businesses not more like that? Technology has massively changed in five years, but so many small businesses are still using old systems and processes
Sure, it's annoying as a customer when you don't get what you want. But more often than not, what you mostly want is less of what you don't want. Less waiting, less forms, delays, diversions, documents and dumb stuff that requires information you have already provided. What you want is a more seamless, connected experience.
Doesn’t matter what industry you are in. What people are looking for when they interact with your business from G’day to Seeyalada, is smooth and simple. Some companies forge a lifetime customer relationship, based on their ability to complete a transaction in under 60 seconds. Click, splash, tap; you’ve got your coffee or beer and you’re paid and gone. Just think of the strategic planning and organisational systems it takes to shave a few seconds off a single 60 second customer encounter. Here is one mind-blowing example of just how much each customer interaction might be improved on, and how much that might be be worth.
A billion dollar business run by teenagers
McDonald's is a $200 billion company that on the surface seems to be run by teenagers. An incredible feat in itself. Most families are happy if they can get their fifteen-year-old off their phone or out of their room.
McDonald's have experienced year-on-year growth for the past thirteen years. They now have over 38,000 stores. For the last five years they have engaged in an aggressive expansion strategy named the “Velocity Growth Plan”. It applied three accelerators - “Digital”, “Delivery” and “Experience of the Future” – two of these three initiatives are technology-based. McDonald’s investment in technology resources is no more evident than in its move earlier in 2019 to acquire a new AI company, Dynamic Yield, for nearly half a billion dollars.
The “Digital” initiative allows customers to order eat-in, takeout and drive thru food through a mobile ordering and payment system. Customer to kitchen connection. Meanwhile, the “Experience of the Future” accelerator includes self-serve digital kiosks and table service. Their careful focus on Process, Technology and People (PTP) resulted in a more connected experience. It shaved seconds off each interaction AND made more customers happy.
Unbelievable productivity gains
So, over five years, McDonald's have increased the number of stores, improved their talent (PTP) and made the business more scale-able. Sounds impressive, but perhaps not surprising - until you compare the staff numbers. In 2013, not counting franchisee enterprises, McDonald's employed 440,000 people. In 2018 they employed 210,000 people. Millions more burgers, thousands more stores, less than half the people. (ref: Statista.com)
In McDonald's case, talent “the natural ability to do something well”, is an attribute of the business structure, not exclusive to the individual. That is not to say that you don’t need talent to work at McDonald's. No doubt, the people working there hold an incredible array of real and latent talent. However, in the context of their employment, the talent that is needed on the job, is intrinsic motivation and the skills to deliver specific task/s throughout the duration of each shift. That's a talent that should not be under-estimated. Once you create a seamless process, you need people who are skilled and motivated to deliver that task – without deviation.
What saps profit from business, more than anything, is lack of connection. The first step to improving connection, is to look for ways to do less. Change the way you look at the talent of the business
and fix or remove anything that is not seamless or connected.
Growth that you can replicate
A business cannot grow until it creates a strategic process that supports and drives growth (a better customer experience). You do this by creatively combining people with technology to create a talent that is unique to the business and can be replicated to meet expansion. Today, it is possible to pretty much remove most labour intensive, mundane and repetitive tasks by using AI and automation – even in small business. This massively improves efficiency and removes pain-points for both customers and staff alike.
So, think for a minute how you might make the experience of your customers, more seamless and connected and what that might be worth in terms of profit and customer satisfaction. Every speed bump in customer onboarding is an opportunity to lose a sale. Every manual task or process is another five or ten minutes on someones time sheet, that drags down the scale-ability of the business.
There is a a saying (similar to one often attributed to Michelangelo) that goes; "Creating a work of art is really not too hard, you just start with a big lump of rock and work at it with a vision and passion, until you have chipped away everything that is not perfection!"