We’re let down by our back-end

If I had a $ for each time I heard that statement my wealth would rival the US President elect. What is the back-end? In a word, the important part of your business offering – delivery and the support service that go with it. Sales and marketing being held up as more important than delivery is way past its used by date. Yet old patterns, paradigms and beliefs are difficult to shift despite the overwhelming evidence and even catastrophic fallout to the contrary. I would hazard a guess that most ‘re-structures, cost-cutting and re-processing initiatives are driven by ‘back-end’ problems.

Our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world has compounded these back-end problems inordinately. If we were to really analyse the ‘actual problem’ we would find that communication or lack there of is the major contributing factor. For example, how much call centre time is consumed by customers complaining about ‘not getting what they were promised’, or a problem not being resolved despite assurances that it would be? Again I would hazard a guess this would consume the bulk of call centre ‘minutes’. Lets face it customers do not call to say ‘hey you’ve done a great job and I am happy’.

The root cause of these communication problems as we discussed in my last post, is ‘silo’s’. Sales by comparison to delivery in a VUCA world is relatively straight forward (if we discount the madness of decision by committee that has drawn out the sales process to triple or quadruple the time it took a few short years ago – that is another post). Delivery, on the other hand has seen radical increases in complexity as customer ‘choices’ expand, which seems to be the way most businesses deal with a customer driven market place. A hangover from ‘delighting’ your customers? The margin for error has increased exponentially, without the effect of silo’s and poor communication. If we think about how efficiency works – removal of variation is seen as paramount, yet increased customer choice and demands has increased variation and thereby reduces efficiency by default as there is so much more that can go wrong.

Many organisation’s are still ‘sales driven’ which is a further factor exacerbating the complexity of delivery. The tendency to ‘over-promise’ to get the sale over the line in our time of overly drawn out sales processes and timelines, is on the increase. Whilst these ‘over-promises’ maybe considered unworthy of mentioning or even overlooked – the fallout at the ‘back-end’ can be catastrophic. So whilst an organisation may have the best systems and technology to support their ‘sales and delivery’ functions – these systems are only as good as the ‘information and data’ that is input to the system. Even self-service systems are not immune from user input errors. Again these issue’s exist before the ‘layer of silo’s and the resulting communication gaps are accounted for.

How do we begin to resolve this? Once again we find that silo’s and lack of communication are a product of a VUCA world, which has caused a pandemic of Busy Brain Syndrome. BBS has severely eroded peoples ability to pay attention and stay focused. It is the cause of ‘so called avoidance behaviours’ – the sales people ‘omitting’ information for example – as these avoidance behaviours are ‘brain driven’ rather than intentional. I am certain we have all been in a position (many times a day) where we forget what we were doing, or what we told someone or what information we passed on – “I’m sure I told you” – only to find that we didn’t. How mortified to we feel when we realise – usually due to some minor or major disaster at the back-end – that we didn’t pass on the information, or complete the task. Well not everyone feels mortified – some don’t seem to care – but that is yet another post.