Whether you’re building a widget, selling a car, or publishing a magazine, getting a product from concept to reality is an intense and many-layered process involving an array of people and organizations.
The widget maker not only has to employ engineers to design the product, it may work with partners to source its parts, engage another company to manufacture the final solution, have a separate group to do quality control testing, leverage a marketing staff to promote the offering, and engage a network of distributors to bring the product to market.
An automobile brand follows a pretty similar process, as I understand it.
Publishing a magazine – an effort with which I have a bit more familiarity – involves editor types like myself planning a magazine issue; interviewing sources for the articles; acquiring and editing articles from companies in the industry; working with internal editors to get their content; and getting all the proper information, content and approvals from those who run advertorials. Meanwhile, the advertising and production staffs are working to sell ads in the magazine and attain from clients the creative related to those efforts. The art division then brings it all together in page format, which both editorial and production staffs then shepherd through multiple proofs. And when it’s finalized, it is formatted by the art staff and goes to yet another organization – the printer, which produces and ships the final products, with input from the circulation, management and/or marketing staffs as to any special requirements, such as sending a subset of the issues to a particular trade show.
Keeping track of all the moving parts of a project like a magazine – or any such project – can be difficult, especially given that deadlines and expectations often shift during the life of a project, the individuals involved in the process may be at remote locations so might not get the opportunity to interface as frequently as they might like, and different people contributing to the effort may have varying views as to where the effort should fall on their priority lists.
That said, having systems in place in which a manager with an overall view of the process can input deadlines and deliverables – and the most current version of the materials being used for the project – so everyone in the process can stay abreast of what’s current, what’s required, and when it’s needed to keep things moving forward can be an invaluable tool. That’s important not only for internal purposes, but also to ensure communications with customers are consistent.
The ability to not just have this information available for users to proactively check, but rather to send out alerts when deadlines are coming soon or have already passed, is also important.
In the end, of course, even an automated system of this type relies on people to input the latest information in a timely manner and the rest of those involved to meet or come as close as possible to the published deadlines.
So, what, you might be wondering, does all this have to do with the customer experience?
When processes and shared expectations are in place things get done more quickly and efficiently. As a result, employees know what’s expected and when, and there’s less confusion about expectations; businesses benefit by having more productive and happier employees; and customers benefit by receiving solutions that typically meet the mark both in terms of quality and delivery date. And businesses then benefit again by having more loyal customers.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi