Here’s your new business word of the day: scotoma. Usually a medical term, a scotoma is a partial loss of vision—a blind spot in an otherwise normal visual field.
Scotomas happen to businesses and organizations all the time. They creep in slowly, eroding the customer experience or even your company culture in little ways until suddenly you have a situation on your hands. A lost customer... A significant loss of business or clients... A slow leak (or even a sudden gush) of employees seeking greener pastures...
When everything is going well, it’s easy to let things like the customer experience or your internal culture slide. This doesn’t happen because companies don’t care. It happens because you are busy meeting the demands of everyday business and things settle into a state of complacency and even disrepair.
This surfaces in different ways for different companies. It happens when our focus is on the end fulfillment rather than the entire process. So many companies have been in crisis mode due to workforce challenges, supply chain issues or high demand that the processes by which their audiences reach them and complete the transaction suffer.
A few examples of common scotomas:
and outdated information on your website
A LACK OF FOLLOW-THROUGH
on customer inquiries or customer service
including incorrect hours of operation, phone numbers, addresses, etc. in Google and search listings
such as poor entry lighting, directional signage, visibility
in consistent, quality communications
INEFFECTIVE INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS
that don’t reach all employees
So, how do you overcome the little blind spots before they become big ones?
Elicit feedback at various points in your customer journey, not just after business has been completed. Use technology and good old-fashioned anecdotes alike to seek this information. Short surveys at pressure points can help you gain understanding. Sentiment capture (think about the smiley face “quiz”) can show you a trend over time and tell you whether your process is easy to navigate.
Seek objective observation. This could include secret shopping, outside evaluations, user-experience testing on your website, or asking someone who has never been to your business or website before to provide you with their observations and where they find pain points or barriers in engagement with you. Fresh eyes on your process can help you discover the blind spots that you miss in the everyday running of your organization.
Learn more about your audiences and develop empathy for them. Gather data on your current clients and develop a persona for each audience segment to help you understand why and how they select your products or services. Then validate them against current sales and engagement. Once you’ve completed that, examine your process from their point of view—or better yet, engage with people who represent those personas to provide input on their experience.
Charge (or hire) someone in your organization with process evaluation and improvement. You don’t have to go full Lean Six Sigma, but it should be a measurable part of someone’s job to ensure that your processes are as friction and error-free as they can be.
All scotomas are a result of a process, and every process can be pulled apart to discover where the breakdowns occur. It takes time, effort and a willingness to take a hard and brutal look at your business. And at times, you need to have uncomfortable conversations. In the end, you improve your customers' experience by listening and empathizing with them. It pays off in loyalty and brand ambassadorship. And it’s a lot cheaper than acquiring new customers or clientele.
Interested in more ways to improve your processes and customer experience? Read Jen's blog about barriers that keep customers from fulling engaging with your business. Or get in touch to learn how de Novo can help you take a step back and evaluate what's working (and what's not) from a fresh set of eyes.