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It is very easy for a customer journey to become over-complicated. Inconsistent and overlapping processes, together with poorly-articulated strategies and misaligned incentives, can lead organisations to become victims of their own complexity. Customer experience best practice tends to occur when brands dispense with the unnecessary components of the customer journey, and use technology to bring consistency and simplification to the overall experience.

World-class companies
This is particularly true in the United States, which boasts some of the best CX management brands in the world. Much of the country’s success is down to the changing perception of customer journeys, which are no longer seen as the preserve of expert designers, but actually form the underpinning of the entire experience. In practice, this means that a company’s services, products and support mechanisms have become seamlessly integrated, significantly improving the way in which customers can move between touch points on their journey.

At the heart of this transformation is the company’s focus. Some organisations might take the shape of a Silo structure, where the customer has to work their way through various departments which may have their own way of doing things, and there is an increased likelihood that the individual will have to go through the same process several times before they can reach their end goal. Alternatively, a person may find themselves in a Matrix organisation, where the labyrinth of departments and customer journeys are managed by end-to-end journey owners.

However, customer experience best practice is more likely to occur when a brand is focused on the individual, and not its internal processes. Companies that operate in this way are known as Radial organisations, and they succeed because they have built their businesses around the customer, and they manage journeys, rather than functions, to form an integrated enterprise.

The best of the best
By far the most successful Radial organisation is the financial services brand USAA, the United Services Automobile Association. USAA has structured itself around customer needs, and is now the highest-scoring American company in 2016, sitting at the top of the US rankings with a CEE score of 8.69.

And whilst its people-centred approach has had a welcome effect on the overall customer journey, there have also been financial implications for the brand. By structuring itself around the requirements of the individual, USAA has discovered that each micro-experience of the customer journey is a potentially reusable design component. For example, at the application point of the customer journey, there is the possibility of defining, optimising and reusing this process for mortgages, credit cards and current accounts, meaning that the brand can reduce costs and increase revenues, and in turn grow its customer base and drive organisational change.

Customer experience best practice through innovation
As such, USAA regards its enterprise architecture as one that has been designed for innovation and a superior service, and the brand is not afraid to ‘think outside the box’ in its mission to continually improve the customer journey. For this reason, the company created an ideation tool, which was available for the entire organisation to participate in. The plan was to encourage employees to identify potential customer improvements, work up their suggestions, build the business cases, and then pitch the concepts to the leadership team for possible implementation. It was a hugely successful initiative, and one that saw USAA receive some 6,000 new ideas within the first three months.

KPMG Nunwood believe that the standards set by companies such as USAA will become more commonplace amongst CX brands over the next few years. What we are seeing is that the barriers caused by traditional silos are being purposefully – and permanently – dismantled. There is a clear emergence of new modes of organisation design, as companies are starting to manage customer journeys in a post-silo world by deploying resources in a manner that is best-suited to the customer. We expect this pattern to continue as we head into the world of 2017, and beyond.

For more customer experience insight visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.

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