Sandy Kemsley's Vlog - End to end processes in action
Sandy Kemsley - End to end processes in action
Vlog

End to end processes in action

By Sandy Kemsley

Video Time: 5 Minutes

Hi, I’m Sandy Kemsley of column2.com. I’m here today for the Trisotech blog with a very practical example of why you need end-to-end processes.

A few videos ago, I talked about the importance of end-to-end processes. If you have a series of disjointed departmental processes, there are definitely problems with not being able to identify innovation, opportunities or the opportunity to optimize the whole process. But there’s a more immediate problem, and one that’s going to impact your customer satisfaction.

What happens is that balls get dropped when a customer journey is spread across these multiple disjointed processes. Let me give you an example: a little over a year ago, I moved house. That was a process all of its own, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about today. Instead, I want to look at something that’s become front of mind for many of us in the past two years, as we’ve dealt with working from home and pandemic restrictions, buying things online and having them delivered to our homes. You may be familiar with my somewhat famous cat, Phoebe. She’s made appearances in several of my presentations, sometimes in live webinars, and she’s a little bit of a twitter maven. Now, if you have a cat, you’ll know that having a cat means buying cat litter and those bags are heavy.

Now I was in the habit of ordering three or four bags at a time from a well-known national pet supply store and having them delivered. But something went wrong when I moved. Every single order that I made would go into a processing stage in the online order screen, then the status would change to cancelled after two or three days with no information about the reason for the cancellation. I called into their customer service, who told me it was because the warehouse must be out of stock. But the customer service is located in Atlanta, Georgia. I asked because I heard her lovely southern accent, and the order process in Canada, where I’m located, is different with orders being delivered directly from the stores, not from a centralized warehouse.

Now, the customer service person wanted to be helpful, but she had no information about what was causing the problem and she had no visibility into my actual order process to try to figure out what went wrong. She could only see the same thing that I saw on my screen was that the order went from processing to cancelled. Now after a year of failed orders and of buying cat litter elsewhere, I finally figured it out. Because I moved into a brand new building, I had a new postal code that had never existed before. The orders were being cancelled when the logistics and shipping part of the process received the order and their system didn’t recognize the postal code, because they hadn’t updated their postal code database in at least a year. My view of the process was only the order end of the process which just showed that status change from processing to cancelled with no explanation. Now if you think about this process, or any kind of ordering process, the logical happy path is from the order management process to the shipping process. And then information from the order management process is probably visible to the customer. Sometimes they don’t have visibility into the shipping process, sometimes that’s purely an internal process. Now you do need to have feedback from the shipping process to the order process in case something goes wrong especially if the customer doesn’t have visibility into that shipping process.

But in this case, that feedback was missing information, and there was no way for the customer or even customer service to correct the order and resubmit it. Because no one who only could see the order management side could tell what the actual problem was. The fact that the postal code wasn’t found in their shipping database was never passed back as part of the information for why the order canceled. Instead everyone assumed it was a stock issue. Now eventually, I had a lengthy conversation with somebody at the local store, and that eventually ended up with him manually adding my postal code to their shipping and logistics database. And the next order was a success all around. Now I’m happy, I don’t have to carry big bags of cat litter home, the pet store is happy because they’re getting orders from me again, and Phoebe is happy because well… you can guess why she’s happy. but what’s important to note, is that the pet stores process is still broken. It’s been fixed for my particular postal code, but customers at every other new postal code since they last updated their database, are out of luck!

This is a bit of a long anecdote but there’s an important lesson here. How you implement your end-to-end processes matters. Most people think about carrying information forward from earlier parts of the process to later parts of the process to avoid manual rework. But it’s equally important to send the right information to the right people when something goes wrong. That might mean feeding more detailed information back to a different part of the process that’s supporting customer service and handling customer interaction. If you don’t, you could be turning away business for no apparent reason and your customers will just go elsewhere. That’s it for today you can find more of my writing and videos on the Trisotech blog or on my own blog at column2.com see you next time.

Follow Sandy on her personal blog Column 2.

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