I have been lucky enough to work with and for various customer facing financial services organisations over the years. One of the benefits of this experience is the chance to compare and contrast how these organisations operate. Based on some of these observations, I have sketched out a generalised framework that describes the key functional actions of the modern customer-facing organisation. Meet the 3-I Raven*.
So to begin with, think about some of the highly specialised tasks that you and your colleagues perform every day. All the costings, technical detail, processes, external meetings, planning sessions, etc. – we all spend time on them. But within your particular area, it’s the specialisation which makes your role and what you do so important. Each task needs a certain level of skill, requires ability, experience and the technical support to deliver a quality result. However, with that comes a level of isolation that can lead to a disconnect across functional areas.
Every large customer facing business essentially has three functional areas that manage and convey data into information, through to instruction and finally the interaction with the end customer. Depending on the nature and maturity of the business and industry in which you work, each area will differ in size and complexity. It’s the end result via the operational function that your customer receives and interacts with, but everything around the approach itself, the relevance of the communication, the timing, the channel(s) should be based on information and decisions that are determined by the preceding activities, namely the data to inform and the strategy to instruct. The loop is closed when data and results are fed back into the inform area.
Each area has numerous inputs and outputs. I have inserted some example activities and outputs that we observe on a daily basis in the graphic below. You might have more or different activities to include depending on what your organisation does. At Principa, we help clients manage their activities throughout the customer lifecycle, so we are active across all areas, but predominantly operate in the strategy area.
Assuming the execution of individual roles within each area are carefully managed, it’s where the process is handed over, the link between areas that is often the weakest point and where the business risk is greatest.
Where it often goes wrong
It is a regular occurrence for example, that a carefully devised strategy is not executed properly in an operational environment. In the meantime, in the mind of the operational role-player, there is a perfectly good reason for making a change to the plan. The same could be said of frustrations that operations may experience with a strategy that they expect will cause a negative customer experience. For seemingly valid reasons, this may lead to the strategy being ignored or adjusted on the fly. Equally, if the feedback loop back into the data area is incomplete or not in place at all, future decisions will not be based on fact, which will place the business at considerable risk of failure.
To help understand the background and motivations of each area and why they act differently, it is also worth considering how underlying drivers and behavioural traits differ. With different drivers, the objectives and the nature of the work, it’s no surprise that each area will tend to attract a certain personality type and underlying attitude as per the table below – please take with a generous pinch of salt…
|DRIVER||Inform/Data & IT||Instruct/Strategy||Interact/Operations|
|Direct goal||Security and compliance||Profitable growth||A great customer experience|
|Outward persona||Conservative and
|Clever leaders||Committed to the cause|
|General attitude||Life blood of the organisation
Trust and safety comes first
|Highly competitive, adventurous within reason||Ingenious, often need to invent “work arounds” to get the job done|
The wisdom of the 3-I Raven
We therefore believe it important in the space of customer engagement (and a similar argument can be made in areas where strategy and operations can collide such as collections – see our blog on RPCs) – that a 3-I construct is critical in understanding the business. The most successful organizations tend to have the strongest cohesion across areas. In constantly reviewing the engagement process and addressing the gaps (see our Blog on learning culture), your business will start to fly!
“You will never walk again… But you will fly!” – 3-Eyed Raven, Game of Thrones
Try applying the thinking to your own situation and use it to compare views and stimulate debate – I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.
*Apologies to Game of Thrones