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If Your Employees Aren’t Happy, Your Customers Never Will be

Thursday, November 21, 2019


A major airline found their internal customer satisfaction ratings dropping. A VP, not entirely jokingly, said, “Send all the flight attendants to charm school!”

Charm school isn’t the answer. Unless you work for the DMV, employees typically WANT to do what is right for the customer. But often, internal policies and procedures are tying their hands.

What gets in the way of your employees serving and delivering greater customer value?

In the early days of Jeb’s tenure at Oracle, he found that employees desperately wanted to solve customers’ problems. But they didn’t always know which ones to focus on first and didn’t have a meaningful way to do so.

How can you engage employees in reducing customer friction and creating greater customer value?

Customer Performance

For the past few months, we’ve been writing about Customer Performance. We’ve created a comprehensive framework as a way to look at customers as your most essential asset: to systematically create value for them, and in turn, motivate them to be great brand advocates for you. The Customer Performance Framework systematically moves customers toward the realization of their objectives and towards advocacy of your brand. A Customer Performance focus engages employees to engage with customers in delivering greater customer value.

Employee Engagement

Do free lunches, pool tables, or afternoon keggers drive employee engagement? No, these perks are great for recruiting. But they are easily habituated and ultimately have no impact on employee behavior.

Doshi & McGregor  wrote that the most potent employee motivators are  Play Purpose , and  Potential Play  is when  the enjoyment of  the work itself provides the motivation to do the work.  Purpose  is fulfilled when we value the impact   or outcome of the work. And  Potential  is when we value the second-order outcome of the work—we do the work because it will eventually lead to something very important to us.



Sadly, most employers resort to applying  Emotional Pressure  as they use guilt and shame to compel employees to work. Or they use  Economic Pressure  as they set up compensation systems where employees act solely to win an award or avoid a punishment. Or the culture is one of  Inertia , and deviation is punished.

These latter three sources of motivation are entirely disconnected from the work itself. However, according to Doshi & McGregor, “ identity  turns jobs into callings; it unites your team with a  common objective , behavioral code, heritage, and traditions.”

Like Jeb found at Oracle, we need to provide opportunities to connect employees with customers and direct their intrinsic desire to serve customers.

Engaging Employees in your Ease of Doing Business Efforts

It has been our experience that front-line employees tend to know and feel what frustrates their customers and would love nothing more than to fix it. Similarly, back-office employees feel their disconnect from customers acutely and are hugely motivated by learning how their actions impact customers and understanding how they’re making a difference for customers.

Following a merger or acquisition, there is often a massive effort to integrate customers into the new systems, contracts, support, etc. This effort is a phenomenal and often overlooked opportunity to get employees from both companies engaged in a compelling shared goal. You can be very targeted about which employees you engage with, to build enthusiasm and purpose consistent with Doshi & McGregor’s model above.

Ease of Doing Business means creating process efficiencies that allow our employees to spend more time on real value-add activities that matter. How many employees know precisely what constitutes a great experience? Effort, however, is intuitive. Employees often know precisely how to make it easy for customers to do business with us.

Where can we engage employees in our efforts to increase Ease of Doing Business?

Identify the Ease of Doing Business Hotspots

The first and easiest is to help identify the Ease of Doing Business Hotspots along the customer journey. Front-line employees often feel their customer’s pain acutely. And you would be surprised by how valuable the back-office employees (legal, accounts payable, contracts, accounts receivable, etc.) are.

Odds are, if a process is cumbersome for front-line employees, it’s tough for customers as well. Improved employee experience almost always translates into an improved customer experience. But not always the other way around. And that’s because frequently organizations paper-over problems and cause more difficult employee experiences in an attempt to improve the customer experience. So, there’s an argument for starting with the employee experience and asking if that’s been improved.

Prioritizing Ease of Doing Business Hotspots

After identifying the Hotspots that cause customer friction and impair revenue/profits, we want to prioritize them based on how easy and inexpensive it would be to implement fixes versus the positive impact those fixes will have on customers and your employees. Employees can be invaluable in identifying hotspots that are easy to fix, inexpensive, and highly impactful to both customers and employees. You should tackle these first. We want quick wins that help us gain peer and executive support for future projects. Even more importantly, this involvement will increase the level of employee enthusiasm and engagement you will need to go after more substantial projects.

Root Cause Analyses

As we embark on our journey to resolve the most critical Ease of Doing Business Hotspots, we need to engage process owners and front-line employees to help us perform root cause analyses. Employees typically understand the upstream nuances that result in significant issues downstream. Because they often acutely feel customer pain, they can enumerate the underlying issues that, if resolved, will ensure your solutions effectively reduce customer effort and make you easier to do business with.

Change Management Imperatives

The greatest strategies and action plans are useless without engaged employees. Countless Chief Customer Officers have failed because they cannot communicate their vision and convince employees to come with them on their change journey. 

Before embarking on each change management effort, you should consider critical success factors for change management. What are some of the risks or obstacles you expect to encounter? Who will help pave over those risks and help overcome political obstacles? 

Are there resources or capabilities that you don’t have within your group or even your company? 

How will your employees be involved in creating success? How will you include them in the analysis, development, measurement? 

Which employees do you need on your team? How will you convince them to participate in your efforts?


We cannot implement our grand challenges and plans without our employees truly onboard and committed.

According to  Gallup , only 33.1% of employees are actively engaged at work. Often, they lack direction and purpose. We have to create opportunities to engage them in increasing customer performance. We need to provide them formal opportunities to help solve customer problems.

If we’re successful, they’ll engage, and according to Gallup, companies with engaged employees drive 21% higher profitability and 20% higher sales. We’ll sign up for that.

Until next time,

Curtis Bingham & Jeb Dasteel

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Categories: Customer Retention | Ease of Doing Business | Employee Engagement

Engage Your Customers to Sustain Ease of Doing Business

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Early in this series, we talked about the Customer Performance Framework , which defines a set of capabilities that enable outcomes ensuring “customer performance.” Customer performance is about putting the right attention on your greatest asset: your customers. When you orchestrate key capabilities across your organization with the goal of delivering substantial value for your customers you give those customers all the right incentives to be your greatest advocates. And the return on that asset will be incremental revenue and incremental margin.

There are many different capabilities described in the framework. In combination, those capabilities support the outcomes or objectives, we have talked about: customer acquisition, retention, effort (ease of doing business), engagement, adoption, value, and brand advocacy. 

To date, in this series, we’ve focused singularly on Ease of Doing Business. Customer engagement plays a crucial role in sustaining Ease of Doing Business. We’ve identified a handful of our favorite customer engagement programs that are especially helpful to Ease of Doing Business:

  • Account Management : Simply put, great account management can paper over almost any problem from an Ease of Doing Business point of view. The best account managers intervene on behalf of their customer (ideally without their customer even knowing about it) and advocate, head-off issues, resolve problems as they arise, and proactively develop partnership models that continuously strengthen the relationship and enrich both parties. Strong account management is foundational and must be programmed across all tiers of the customer segmentation strategy. A strong account team or function, supported by strong tools and processes, eases the burden on the customer across almost every dimension of the relationship and across almost every interaction. But account management can’t be the sole Ease of Doing Business facilitator.
  • Coordination of Resources Across Lines of Business : Strong account management will, of course, help this, but beyond the team assigned to work with a particular customer, there needs to be a process for how all front-office and back-office team members work together (versus independently) to service customers, collectively. Basic rules of engagement are key. Standard processes, tools, and metrics are necessary as well. 
  • Orchestration of Customer Care : Especially in complex global B2B situations, even customer care—which is designed to be a solution to a problem—can often be THE problem. You can have multiple geographies and lines of business, and even product lines, simultaneously trying to resolve a problem but in the process making matters worse. Thus, customer care functions need to be highly orchestrated with an eye toward simplifying the interaction for the customer when things inevitably go wrong.
  • Executive Sponsorship : Relationships are the nutrient that nurtures partnerships, enables transactions, and permits growth. In a business setting, we need to be deliberate about how we develop and maintain partnerships at various levels. A robust executive sponsorship program is the backbone of an organization’s ability to manage relationships between its executives and its customers’ executives. The strength of those relationships will form the basis for addressing Ease of Doing Business challenges head-on.
  • Communications Strategy: Having a communications strategy that addresses both the reactive situations and how to proactively connect with your customers will make an enormous impact on Ease of Doing Business for your customers. As this is written, a certain cable company is not communicating with me in any sort of productive manner about my internet service being down (going on 36 hours now). To get updates on when the problem will be fixed, I’m instructed to text ‘update’ to them. I do that and either get nothing in response or an ever-changing estimate or ‘currently, there is no estimated time for when this service will be restored.’ We’ll just say this is the exact opposite of Easy to Do Business With and leave it at that.
  • Advisory Councils: A multi-tiered program of advisory councils, where you have product-feedback councils for your engineers or product designers, industry or market councils for your go-to-market teams, and executive councils for your top management will help with relationship building, provide invaluable feedback, and even secure deals. There are straightforward rules for managing these programs effectively, but it’s mostly about investing in a great learning experience, solid planning (4-6 months lead-time), and getting the exact right people in the room. After that, it’s all about keeping the conversation at a strategic level. Invariably, the feedback will be 70% on Ease of Doing Business. When you fix these customers’ challenges, they will be your greatest advocates.
  • Product Adoption Strategies: Without a deliberate strategy to help your customers push and ease the adoption of your product throughout their organization, whatever objectives they sought when buying your product in the first place will not be achieved. Ease of Doing Business is meaningless without pervasive product adoption.
  • Value Realization: The sooner you are able to help your customers target business benefits, track their progress toward realizing those benefits, and measuring the actual attainment of them, the better off your customer will be—and the better off you’ll be. Modeling your customer interactions around how you help that customer achieve real OUTCOMES is the single most important thing you can do to be a real partner. That, in turn, will yield incremental revenue and most likely margin returns for you. As well, this will create stronger, referenceable customers willing to become powerful brand advocates. This may well be the most elemental approach you can take to address Ease of Doing Business for your customer. 

In summary, you can think about Ease of Doing Business in two ways: first, how to identify and address the key challenges you are facing today; and then what are the programs and capabilities needed to sustain Ease of Doing Business, as portrayed in this graphic:

These capabilities, or programs, service Ease of Doing Business over the long haul. Where to begin is always a great question, which we have addressed a number of different ways over the past couple of months.

If you’d like to continue the dialog or if you’re interested in learning more, check out our Ease of Doing Business Accelerator here .

Until next time,

Curtis & Jeb

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Categories: Customer Effort | Customer Engagement | Ease of Doing Business

Your CEO Only Cares About Results

Monday, November 04, 2019


We can talk about customer strategy until we’re blue in the face. But at the end of the day, your CEO only cares about RESULTS. 

Executives who are too process-focused on things like journey maps, customer experience, NPS, and Design Thinking are failing to translate their initiatives into business results. They’re not able to point to the revenue they’ve contributed to bringing in. Or profits they’ve helped increase. Or even severe customer problems they’ve resolved that led to customer turnarounds, incremental revenue protection, and margin improvement. In short, these executives are at serious risk of being irrelevant to the CEO.

This article shows you how to translate your Ease of Doing Business strategy into a detailed action plan you can take to your CEO and get funded. And ensure you can demonstrate relevant ROI.

Previously on Ease of Doing Business

As all good TV series must begin, “Previously on…” We’ve written fairly extensively about Ease of Doing Business in our series of articles covering: 

  1. Why it is so important for you to  focus RIGHT NOW on Ease of Doing Business  
  2. How  buyers and sellers think very differently about Ease of Doing Business —and how that difference can sabotage your efforts
  3. The most  common causes of friction  that upset your customers and prevent your revenue/profit growth
  4. The  critical organizational capabilities  you must find or develop to successfully become easier to do business with
  5. How to  build a business case  around Ease of Doing Business to convince the CFO and CEO to invest
  6. Critical success factors  that enable you to become easier to do business with
  7. How to  discover Ease of Doing Business Hotspots , or the most egregious issues that are creating friction for customers, impairing revenue and profits, and preventing growth.

Creating an Overriding Vision for Hotspot Resolution

In our most recent article, we identified and prioritized a number of Ease of Doing Business hotspots that are frustrating customers. We’ve chosen the low-hanging fruit: those that have a high impact on customers and are relatively easy to implement, according to a number of criteria we laid out. 

Now how do you make these urgent hotspots actionable and fix them for customers?

Describe Hotspot Outcomes and Success Measures

While breaking down hotspots into specific initiatives, and to ensure those initiatives stay on point, you need to create a clear description of ideal outcomes and what success means for each of the chosen Ease of Doing Business Hotspots.

Within your cross-functional teams, ask yourselves:

  1. What does a successful end-state look like? 
  2. How will customers experience the future state differently? 
  3. How will employees see it differently? How will our business be better off? 
  4. And how will you measure it?

Spending a few moments describing the ideal future state from the perspective of each stakeholder will ensure everyone working on the project downstream will have a clear picture of what they’re working towards.

For example, an insurance company we have worked with found a huge Ease of Doing Business hotspot. Their customers were complaining about having to spend too much time on the phone to obtain updates, claim status, or other updates. The company set out to decrease customer effort in interactions by driving one million customer hours out of their contact center. This is a perfectly clear future state and a great success metric that everyone in the company can understand. 

Break Down Hotspots into Initiatives

Armed with a clear understanding of what the future looks like for each Ease of Doing Business Hotspot, it is time to break each hotspot down into specific initiatives that can be managed by a cross-functional Tag Team. 

As you examine the hotspots, you need to perform root-cause analyses to ensure you’re not working on mere symptoms. Remember that high-effort experiences often begin WAAY upstream. 

One company was experiencing 33% annual customer churn. Interviews with customers, sales, and customer care showed that the problem wasn’t about poor customer rescue and retention processes in customer care. Instead, the churn problem began in marketing and sales an entire year before the customers churned. 

The sales team was selling very complex network hardware to companies that didn’t have sophisticated IT staff. Product complexity quickly overwhelmed inexperienced IT staff. 

The short-term answer was to help marketing and sales target and qualify companies with more mature IT organizations. The longer-term answer was to create a more intuitive and automated product interface that didn’t require such in-depth training and experience in network traffic analysis.

Similarly, another company was experiencing huge spikes in call center volume. Analysis indicated these spikes always occurred within 5 days of mailing monthly billing statements. The overall hotspot goal was to decrease the spikes and overall call center traffic by 10%. 

The most successful initiative was to change monthly billing statements to include ONLY inserts and language relevant to customer recipients, rather than inserts and disclaimers for ALL states in which the company did business. 

Engage Process Owners and Customers

As you seek the root cause, it is especially helpful to engage process owners, front-line employees who feel the pain that customers do, and especially customers. The more you can engage customers to help diagnose and treat your hotspots, the closer you’ll be to solutions that truly benefit customers.

Be specific in enumerating how you will engage employees AND customers in defining, developing, and proving the initiative.

Define Impact Statements

For each initiative, be specific in describing: 

  1. Impact of the initiative on customers
  2. Impact on employees
  3. Impact on company
  4. Ease of deployment
  5. Measures of success

Set Reasonable Goals and Timeframes

We recommend no more than 5-10 big initiatives to be pursued at a time. Any more than this and you end up stretching your precious resources too thin and you risk taking too long to demonstrate results. 

You should ideally structure your initiative so your teams can complete it within one quarter. This helps you create a sense of urgency and build powerful momentum. On rare occasions, an initiative might span two quarters. 

Build the Project Plan

Once you have the initiative defined and scoped, it is time to create an action plan that will guide the implementation going forward.

The action plan needs to include a list of key actions to be taken, person(s) responsible, and completion deadline. 

Outline the Change Management Imperatives

This is also the time to consider critical success factors for change management:

  1. Who is the executive sponsor? 
  2. What are the risks? 
  3. Who is potentially an obstacle to the successful completion of this initiative? 
  4. What other resources might be necessary? Are there capabilities we don’t have and need to rent, buy, or build?
  5. How will customers be engaged? Employees?

Create the Scorecard

It is very important to create a scorecard for this action plan. How will this action plan contribute to the overall Hotspot outcomes and success criteria? What does success look like? 

How will customers be involved in evaluating success? Will you call them? Survey them? Involve them in the analysis, development, and testing? How will this initiative contribute to your overall Ease of Doing Business score or your customer effort score? 

Finalize the Business Case

Before wrapping up, we need to revisit and finalize the business case and ROI estimates. What are the costs that might be incurred as you execute the action plan? Consider both hard cost investments and soft-costs in terms of people-time for those working on the project.

Validate the Action Plan

Before we can consider the action plans set in stone, you need to validate the plans with executives, process owners, and especially, customers. 

Customers can be particularly valuable not only in ensuring that the changes you plan to make solve actual problems but also in helping gain buy-in from the organization. 


While it does take some time and effort to develop a well-conceived strategic plan, preparing with this level of detail is the most effective way to convince the CEO and CFO to support and fund your customer initiatives. This level of detail is incredibly valuable when cross-functional teams grow beyond your immediate span of control and are empowered to execute without your involvement. And this rigor helps you measure your outcomes so you can prove ROI to your CEO and improved Ease of Doing Business for your customers. 

If you haven’t already, check out the  Ease of Doing Business Accelerator . It is a very intensive 1.5 day workshop that helps you and your team discover hotspots and translate them into action plans in which you can get your CEO to invest. We’d love to have you join us in either a public version or one private to YOUR company. 

Curtis Bingham

Jeb Dasteel (former CCO, Oracle)

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Categories: Customer Effort | Customer Engagement | Ease of Doing Business

Your Journey to Ease of Doing Business

Thursday, October 24, 2019

We have already written extensively about Ease of Doing Business. And we will continue to do so. Why, you might ask? Because it’s that important. We see the challenges as pervasive—across virtually all the organizations we have spoken to, worked with, and researched. As a result, we want to highlight any approaches we can to help organizations score some quick wins by becoming systematically easier to do business with.

Love to Hate Journey Mapping

One such technique uses journey mapping. We just love to hate journey mapping—mostly because it’s so often viewed as a panacea for all things wrong with Customer Experience… and beyond. Your customers are dissatisfied? Journey map! Your user interface is rotten? Journey map! Too many service requests? Journey map! Loyalty scores are low? Journey map! Your revenue is down? Journey map! The business is under-performing? Journey map! If only it were that simple.

Journey mapping is a useful tool, but it has to be applied narrowly, for a very specific purpose. In the case of Ease of Doing Business, we apply bits and pieces of it to identify HOTSPOTS where friction is especially egregious.

Focus on Ease of Doing Business Hotspots

So far, in our Ease of Doing Business series, we have discussed exactly what it means, why it’s so importanthow buyers and sellers think about it differently, what the typical business drivers are, what sort of capabilities are required for an effective program, how to build a business case, and—most recently—some critical success factors in making yourself easier to do business with. We believe you can very effectively use journey mapping to quickly identify a handful of these hotspots where customers are especially at risk for defection to effect real change, really fast.

How to Do This In 7 Steps

  1. Identify and characterize prototypical buying personas. Typically, this would include the personas’ background, some demographic data, key identifiers, goals & challenges, and some discussion on what we as the seller can do to help to address those goals & challenges.
  2. Create the initial Ease of Doing Business Map, doing this with a view of the customer lifecycle and each of the most important channels to market. Lifecycle phases can take any form, but we typically use something like: define need; research fulfillment of need; select provider; buy; receive goods or services; use goods or services; maintain; and recommend to the next buyer.
  3. Identify the Ease of Doing Business Hotspots along this journey based on customer, front line employee, intermediary (as appropriate), back office, and management team input. You would be surprised by how valuable the back office (legal, accounts payable, contracts, accounts receivable, etc.) is.
  4. Rinse and repeat. Iterate the personas, the map, and the hotspots through a combination of interviews and workshops and reconcile the hotspots with the typical Ease of Doing Business Drivers seen in research.
  5. Prioritize the hotspots based on how easy and inexpensive it would be to implement fixes versus the positive impact those fixes will have on customers and your employees. Obviously, the hotspots that are easy to fix, inexpensive, and highly impactful to both customers and employees will be the first things you will want to tackle.
  6. Further test the most actionable hotspots by holding them up against your CEO’s vision and priorities for the business and make sure there is line of sight to enterprise operational and financial metrics as well. If you’ve been following along for the last several weeks, these are elements of the business case
  7. Lastly, select the critical few to turn into initiatives and build out a project plan for each, including change management imperatives and a scorecard that will help you gauge incremental progress. You will definitely want to assign tag teams, as discussed last week, to guide each initiative.

Where to Start

We like to start with a customer survey and a series of customer and internal executive front-line employee interviews. That will give you the starting point for the personas and for putting the actual journey map together. And, as always, we’re here to help. If you haven’t already, check out the Ease of Doing Business Accelerator. There’s a public version, where we bring 4-5 companies together for a session that benefits from sharing of best practices and lessons learned across businesses and industries. And there’s a private version where we do a deep dive for one company.

That’s it for now. See you again next week.

Curtis Bingham & Jeb Dasteel


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Categories: CCO Council | Customer Effort | Customer Retention

Five Critical Success Factors in Becoming Easier to do Business With

Monday, October 14, 2019

If you asked your customers, “How easy is it to do business with us?” what would they say? If you’re like many other companies, they’ll probably say, “Not very.” If you asked customers to compare you with Amazon or Lyft or USAA, they might say, “Not at all!”

How do we make it easier for our customers to buy from us?

Isn’t it just about improving the customer experience?

Turns out, the answer is “No.” Ease of Doing Business trumps CX. As the seminal article “Bad is Stronger than Good” points out, “bad emotions, events and feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.” The badness of high customer effort, which ordinarily transcends multiple customer touchpoints, is not easily offset by the goodness of CX improvements, which tend to affect very specific moments. CX is meant to be all-encompassing, but in practice it almost never is. The persistence of rampant Ease of Doing Business challenges in virtually every organization we encounter is proof of that, given the enormous push for CX improvements over the past 10 years.

Ease of Doing Business is on the lips of many CEOs and Board members, and rightly so. The promise of reduced costsis huge. Reducing customer effort can save 37% in operating expenses and induce customers to spend 88% more. Customer effort impairs revenue growth and destroys profits. Ease of Doing Business is the single most important thing for companies to focus on. In earlier articles we listed some of the most common drivers of Ease of Doing Business, but there is a massive disconnect in buyer’s and seller’s perceptions of which drivers are really impacting a given situation.

We’ve watched businesses attempt to become customer-centric for the past decade. Some have succeeded wildly. Others have failed miserably. In an effort to understand why, we interviewed some of the most successful CMOs, CSOs, CCOs, etc. to learn what they did to shape customer strategy.

Based on these interviews and our own experiences, Jeb Dasteel, former chief customer officer of Oracle, and I have developed a Customer Performance Framework. It contains seven leading indicators. Executives who improve these guarantee increased revenue, profits, and job performance. Customer Effort, or Ease of Doing Business, is the #1 most important leading indicator. The Framework also includes 60+ programs that an executive can deploy against those seven leading indicators.

There are five critical steps you should take as you start down the path of making yourself easier to do business with:

  1. Establish Ease of Doing Business Metrics
  2. Understand Critical Drivers of Ease of Doing Business
  3. Develop a Baseline Perception
  4. Identify Ease of Doing Business Hotspots
  5. Establish a Customer Effort Tag Team

Let’s look at these one at a time:

Establish Ease of Doing Business Metrics

The most critical first step is to develop a set of metrics that measure overall Ease of Doing Business as well as transactional customer effort. We’ve found that many CMOs and CCOs are measuring NPS and CSAT, reading verbatims, polling sales teams, etc. to back into identifying processes that might be causing friction for customers. However, very few are formally measuring Ease of Doing Business or customer effort effectively.

A large energy distribution company in the US recently began measuring NPS. However, their customers are largely captive—they may only gain or lose 1 new customer in any given year. A “willingness to recommend” or other loyalty metric isn’t actually going to inform strategy. However, becoming Easier to do Business With is something that can minimize complaints, rescues, escalations, and complaints to regulatory bodies. And it will do more to protect profits and prevent that one lost customer than most any other activity.

Metrics have to be informed by customers. Our research shows there is zero overlap in the top three things we as sellers think are important to fix vs. what buyers believe is important. Metrics have to help us accurately assess the key drivers from our customer’s perspectives. This is the only way we can ensure we’re focused on impactful initiatives. Furthermore, we need to balance customer desires with strategic imperatives and costs to deliver.

We recommend creating an overall Ease of Doing Business metric rolled up from other measures, as well as a transactional Customer Effort Score.

Understand Critical Drivers of Ease of Doing Business

What do your customers say makes you hard to do business with? Is it the sales process? Contracting? Collaboration? On-boarding? We have identified the 10 most common drivers of Ease of Doing Business. We would love to have you share your drivers and help us expand our repository of benchmarks. Can you take 3 minutes and share?

It is critical to establish these drivers using customer input. That’s the whole point of the exercise. Socialize them within your company and use these as a foundation for your Ease of Doing Business improvements.

Develop a Baseline Perception

At the core of any good change initiative is a solid baseline. The same holds true for assessing Ease of Doing Business. It must measure both internal and customer perceptions. We're using a diagnostic tool that measures perceptions and performance in eight broad categories of our Customer Performance Framework. This diagnostic is completed by specifically targeted line of business leaders, front-line employees, and key customers. The results are rolled up into an overall Ease of Doing Business Score.

Front-line employees often have a very good sense of where customer frustration is the highest. We often find alignment in perceptions between these employees and customers and then find gaps in perceptions between executives and those same customers. If carefully handled, bringing clarity to these different points of view can be a powerful motivator for change.

The overall Ease of Doing Business score should align with each of the critical drivers to allow for granular measurement of improvement.

Identify Ease of Doing Business Hotspots

Customer effort originated in the call center, because customers were 4x more likely to leave those interactions disloyal.

That is no longer enough. Ease of Doing Business has to be measured across the customer journey.

The root causes of increased effort can be found well upstream of the call center. A major insurance company experienced a massive increase in call volume within days of mailing monthly statements. Frustrations were extremely high. This surge of calls was caused by confusing billing statements accompanied by generic and irrelevant inserts.

Creating an Ease of Doing Business Hotspot Map can be very useful in pinpointing customer effort hotspots and prioritizing solutions. Evaluate each customer touchpoint and customer-impacting process through the lens of Ease of Doing Business:

  • Perceived ease: how hard do customers perceive the job to be done?
  • Actual ease: how much actual time is spent performing the job?
  • Competitive ease: how hard do customers perceive it is to do the same job with competitors?
  • Returned value: How much value does touchpoint improvement yield?

Even though a job to be done doesn’t actually take long, it can be perceived to be high effort. Filling out a supplier form in the vendor’s portal might take little time. But if it is the fifth time your customer has had to re-enter information it becomes high-effort and a source of friction. This friction is additive across many other interactions.

Establish a Customer Effort Tag Team

Customer effort is typically a result of decisions and processes far upstream from where customers say, “You’re hard to do business with!” A single executive rarely has complete span of control over all the drivers of Ease of Doing Business. Therefore, successful customer executives create a cross-functional team. They ensure the team has the explicit permission to examine all processes across the organization.

While at Oracle, Jeb orchestrated cross-functional teams to address the top 10 sources of customer friction. Members of his own team served as consultants to passionate employees from business units that owned the sources of friction. Members were trained and emboldened to make change. Group membership changed based on the initiatives underway.

The Tag Team provides leverage as they work within their respective organizations to address the biggest obstacles to Ease of Doing Business. As well, they help their organizations adhere to standard best practices along the drivers of Ease of Doing Business.


Ease of Doing Business is one of the most important (and overlooked) components of business success. If you’re hard to do business with, customers don’t care that you have made point-in-time or transactional CX improvements.

Armed with the metrics, critical drivers, a baseline customer perception, and Ease of Doing Business hotspots, you and your team have all you need to establish priorities and create an action plan to engage employees in resolving real issues. We just wrote about how critical it is to create a business case to demonstrate and then measure value—even for something as seemingly obvious as Ease of Doing Business.

If you Want Help

If you’d like assistance in developing these and additional capabilities, we’ve created an Ease of Doing Business Accelerator. You can attend a public accelerator and benefit from cross-pollination with other non-competing companies or you can bring it in-house to work exclusively on your own strategies.

If you’d like to learn more or join us at the accelerator, please select a convenient time for a brief call.

Curtis Bingham

Jeb Dasteel, Former chief customer officer, Oracle

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Categories: Customer Effort | Customer Loyalty | Customer Retention | Ease of Doing Business

Make it Your Business to Present the Case for Ease of Doing Business

Monday, October 07, 2019

According to Oxford dictionaries, the definition of “business case” is “a justification for a proposed project or undertaking on the basis of its expected commercial benefit.” That makes perfect sense, but why do I need to do this to move forward with a project that so clearly benefits our customers? It seems like the obvious right thing to do. You and I may believe that to the core, but we would be missing a crucial point.

It’s ALWAYS about demonstrating business outcomes—for our customers and for our own business, even with Ease of Doing Business. And the only way to demonstrate business outcomes is to present a business case—and then use that business case as the guardrails for what we do going forward.

So far in our Ease of Doing Business blog series, we have covered:

We are confident that we have made the case for the sense of urgency applied to Ease of Doing Business.

With a good sense of what it is, why it is important, how customers think about it, and how you begin to address it, your Ease of Doing Business program, or series of initiatives, should now be subjected to the rigors of a business case.

It’s natural to assume that a business case is all about return on investment (ROI) or internal rate of return (IRR) or other such measures of benefits versus costs. Of course, any of these is an important element of a business case but, in our experience, we believe that there are six other elements that must be included to make that business case truly complete and compelling.

The 7 Elements of a Complete & Compelling Business Case for Ease of Doing Business:

  1. Improvement Goals & Related Timeline– These are the tangible, operational business and customer outcomes you seek as a result of becoming easier to do business with. These outcomes are expressed in terms easily understood by business leaders and customers. They are mapped onto a realistic timeline to show when the incremental benefits will be realized.
  2. Resources & Accountability– The implementation resources (human, financial, and otherwise) that represent your investment over the lifespan of the program. These include specific accountabilities for not just the implementation tasks, but for the continued effort to actually attain the improvement goals. This is NOT a project plan. You can depict that level of resourcing detail elsewhere.
  3. Costs & Benefits Targeted– Here are the financials. To put this together in the most compelling way, we encourage organizations to create “value trees” that map prospective Ease of Doing Business improvements to specific profitability and revenue goals, showing the linkages of the Ease of Doing Business drivers to performance indicators, and then to higher level operational metrics, and ultimately, to financial metrics. The bottom line can then be represented in whatever standard financial justification used by the firm (e.g. ROI, IRR).
  4. Change Management Challenges and Critical Success Factors– Without a deliberate plan for driving change and employee engagement through the organization, your Ease of Doing Business program doesn’t stand a chance. This requires an honest look at the culture and politics of the organization and a creative, marketing-oriented approach to engaging the organization, one employee at a time.
  5. Strategic/Competitive Analysis– Baselining where you and your customers are with Ease of Doing business is, of course, essential – but also key is understanding where your market and key competitors are. SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis has been around since the 60’s but it still works very well. Use this—or something like it—to assess how your Ease of Doing Business program will affect your customers, your competitive positioning, and your business.
  6. Value Realization– The definitive business case is great to document a moment in time, but unless you have a plan for tracking and measuring the actual value realized from that point forward, it will only get you so far. Here are some additional guidelines to follow for developing the business case: including targeting the expected benefits in the business case, trackingincremental progress against the business case through the implementation of the Ease of Doing Business program (across each of the initiatives), and then measuringactual business outcomes realized in ‘production.’
  7. Next Steps– Here is where you outline the first steps that will be taken to launch the Ease of Doing Business program. Especially important here are the “early wins” that help build the critical momentum needed to instill confidence and garner excitement for the whole program. 

You may be thinking that this feels a lot like a project plan and too much for a business case. Well, your CFO, COO, and CEO are far less likely to read or listen to you present your project plan and far more likely to pay close attention to your business case. And that business case has to speak their language, meaning it has to address exactly what Ease of Doing Business initiatives are trying to accomplish: not just for customers, but for your business. It also has to comprehensively tackle the risks and rewards of the effort, putting it in the context of the market in which your business operates. All this does not mean you have to create a dissertation. Complete doesn’t mean lengthy. It just means that you have demonstrated thoroughness in thought process and analysis as you MAKE THE CASE FOR EASE OF DOING BUSINESS.

Let us know what you think. If you want help, we’re here for you. Check out the Ease of Doing Business Accelerator

Curtis Bingham

Jeb Dasteel, former CCO of Oracle

View Curtis Bingham's profile on LinkedIn


Categories: Customer Effort | Ease of Doing Business