Think “First Customer” Not “Customer First”

Silhouette of 'thumbs up' comprised of people.
80% of consumers say they could have been retained if their issue had been resolved on first contact.

Fortune.com published this content previously.

The formula for remarkable customer experience should not require 150 steps for a customer to set up a new account.

Case in point: A few years ago one of our most innovative clients, a bank in Singapore, recognized that their new account process had become a major source of frustration for customers. With 150 tasks, paper forms and a computer barrier between customer and banker, the cumbersome process led to high abandonment, high costs and low Net Promoter Scores.

What the bank did next was bold.

They stepped back and re-imagined their process around treating each customer as if she was the bank's first customer, imagining her experience from the moment she walked into the branch until she left with her new account. Instead of a quick fix of digitizing an old process, they re-architected everything from culture to the technology that connects customers to operations.

The bank's bold move was driven by customers — all of whom expect the world to revolve around their unique needs.

According to Accenture's Customer 2020 study, customers are seeking "quicker resolution and fewer hassles—and if companies don't move faster, they'll move on." 80% of consumers say they could have been retained if their issue had been resolved on first contact.

In talking with clients and management consultants, the most important step in addressing customer demands is gaining C-level support to shift company culture to focus first on customer needs, instead of making those needs conform to legacy process and systems.

Next is ensuring that everything from human interactions to workflow, business processes and technology all work together. If technology does not connect front-end contact centers, websites and apps to your operations centers, you're just putting a facade on a broken process.

The third step is to assume that nothing is out of bounds. The Singapore bank's team considered everything from branch design to software.

Today, a shared-screen experience enables the customer and banker to work side-by-side from the start. The experience is guided, so every progressive step is customized to the customer's needs. Paper forms are gone and those 150 tasks have been collapsed. The end-to-end process is completed before the customer even leaves the bank.

The result? Account activations are up and the bank's Net Promoter Scores have risen. More add-on products are sold with each new account. The process is so popular that it has become a major selling point and a competitive differentiator.

Are your customers being treated as if they were your first customer?