The behind the scenes operations of an organization are what makes a customer experience happen.



It is easy to think that if you just understand what matters and design a good customer experience it will be great but what happens after that (execute, manage, and change it) is the key to getting it right consistently. Today let’s take the two examples of poor customers experiences we talked about in the last two days (a lengthy sock purchase and getting an error off a patient’s record) and look at all the likely behind the scene steps to getting the customer experience right so we can see the necessary complexity. Let’s try it in more pictures than words today. . .


1. Purchasing socks 


When we wrote about the 54 minute sock purchase on Sunday we depicted in words what the customer’s expectations were, what the company (likely) believed it was delivering, and what the customer actually experienced. We can assume that the last step in the online purchase process was to get the customer through the purchase easily and that is likely also what most customers would expect. “Easily” would need to be better defined but in our example Sunday the customer thought it might take a few minutes and not take much effort to make the purchase.




In order to make that last step happen correctly Vendor A would have to get a lot behind the scenes steps right.  It isn’t surprising that an error could happen. At a high level (simplified below) these are the things that would have to happen for a that last purchase step to go right. If you could poke at each of those boxes and arrows you would find layers and layers of operational process, people, and technology supporting it.



In our example the customer failed in the online channel because of inventory errors, got help from the online chat agent who could see into the inventory system and confirmed there were socks available, but couldn’t help the customer because the web site was not reading the inventory correctly.  We don’t know where that break happened – it could have been in a database, could have been in the inventory system, or could have been in the web technology or interfaced between the systems. Since the customer was able to complete the transaction in the call center, we have assumed that it happened in the web technology or the interfaces.(These are assumptions because we don’t work with that vendor. )

Our experience tells us that if the behind the scenes technology is optimized all of the service channels will rely on the same technology for inventory and most parts of the purchase (and then delivery) step.



It takes a lot to get that one step right in the customer experience. Yes, you do have to understand what is important and design the experience because if you don’t do that you won’t know how to direct your operations and technology but the keeping the customer experience going after the execution step takes a lot of operations skill and management.

2. Getting An Error Off a Patient Record

We intended to use today’s blog to demonstrate how removing erroneous information from a city wide shared medical record system and one individual hospital system  was necessarily complex and how sometimes you could end up with a bad patient experience, no matter the design, because of the complexity. We even intended that when we wrote the intro to this blog. Unfortunately,  as we were building the graphic below  we realized we couldn’t actually prove our own argument in the case of patient records.

What we found was that the majority of the complexity in this process is coming from “find the source of error” or the doctor that entered the erroneous mistake in the first place. That shouldn’t be complex. There are many ways to solve for that step that would improve the patient experience and not put the onus on the patient to do that work.  For example: do that step at the hospital, track the doctor’s information in the shared medical record system so it was easily viewable, and so on.

Below we have depicted the experience as we understand it today in figure 1. In figure 2 we have illustrated, with a hot pink arrow, what the patient’s new experience could be if changers were made.  The patient would skip the very lengthy steps in light gray if she didn’t have to find the doctor and the error herself.  There is still complexity because the record is in a shared system, eRecords systems are hard for doctors to use often, and the doctor has to hunt down the error him or herself but a big area of unnecessary complexity for the patient has been removed.

Figure 1: Today’s  process ( as we understand it)


Figure 2: Cutting out the obvious complexity for the patient


We aren’t sure how often erroneous information shows up on patient records but we don’t think it is rare. Assuming it happens frequently enough to warrant a change to the experience, we we would advocate to hide the complexities behind the scenes and provide a much simpler process for the patient because when you ask customers to do that much work you are just passing off labor to your customers and saving operational costs at the risk of customer attrition later. (See our previous discussion about this effect when implementing self service.)


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Ceatro Group is a research and consulting firm that helps organizations understand people better and design and/or improve
customer, employee,and partner experiences and underlying operational processes  in order to get better business results.         +1-617-338-4535