“Make your complexity invisible to everyone else.”
I don’t know who said that line, but I do love it (and I do use it – often).
We live in the era of third-party service providers. There are experts in, literally, everything. Because of this (and the need to scale), many brands bring on third-party providers to deliver a true omnichannel experience, or a “best in class” experience. On paper, this makes sense. As a the master brand, you can expand and bring on experts. If things go sideways, it’s always better to cancel that contract than deal with employees. From a cost perspective, these third-party providers have put in the time, training, optimization, and are usually cost-effective (the master brand saves time trying to staff up and expertise up).
It all works well… until it doesn’t (which is often).
Case in point: during this past holiday break we stayed at a hotel that we’ve been customers at for over a decade. Over the years, the hotel has slowly rolled out the outsourcing of almost everything. Parking/valet, housekeeping, indoor restaurant, beach/towel/pool crew, security, garderning, outdoor bar service, etc… It has come to the point when one hand doesn’t know what the other hand does (let alone what they are doing or who to ask). If you have an issue, and you ask someone (anyone), the response is (almost) always, “that’s not us… that’s this other company… that’s another service provider… can you ask the front desk, because if we say anything, they will just ignore us… we’re a third-party provider, and we can’t help you…” On and on.
It works great on paper, but when it hits the customer experience…
The company/hotel/master brand has no idea that this is the customer experience. They have no idea how frustrating it is, when you ask the beach crew if the pool is going to be cleaned, and they tell you that it’s another company… or when you ask the poolside service for a coffee and they tell you that’s the restaurant upstairs and inside… sure, first world problems, but we’re building a quality brand and story here. This is not that. Still not convinced? Try buying insurance for a flight on the airline’s website, then watch them tell you it’s a third-party provider, and that they have nothing to do with it when you attempt to invoke it after a missed connection.
Make the brand, the brand experience and the customer experience the real story.
What’s good for the company needs to be great for the customer. These “death by a thousand paper cuts,” makes the consumer wonder who is running the show, and where is all of this money going? Maybe it’s not third-party providers for your business, but maybe it is how your departments/silos work? We live in this day and age when information, complaining and talking about this stuff is just a Trip Advisor review, tweet, YouTube video away. If one consumer can use multiple pieces of technology to seamlessly share a story like this (for free) with the world, don’t all brands need to live, breathe and be accountable in that world?
“Make your complexity invisible to everyone else.” That’s a good way to think about how to innovate and transform.