In Pursuit of Operational Excellence

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Operational excellence is a mindset that creates a culture of excellence within an organization. Inspired by effective leadership and powered by the principles you employ and the tools you use, this culture of excellence will deliver continuous and consistent value to your customers and convert them into advocates for your brand.

However, operational excellence tends to mean different things for different stakeholders so it’s important that everyone in every department is aligned on the ultimate goals you define and your strategy for attaining them.

Nor is operational excellence easy to achieve – it’s a continuous challenge where the goalpost is always moving. Innovative technologies constantly emerge which make today’s understanding of the quest different from yesterday’s understanding. Adaptability is key when striving for the operational excellence that will make you best in class.


While many brands declare customer satisfaction and other great positives in their marketing, often what goes on behind the scenes is chaotic and very different to the rosy picture painted on the outside. Additionally, customers may be far from satisfied. 

Just three of the many challenges faced by brands today that contribute to the internal chaos are: 

  • Onerous processes and outdated systems 
  • Accessibility to the team/person who can resolve the issue
  • Resourcing issues, leading to: 
    • Agents overwhelmed with calls, emails, chats 
    • Abandoned calls/conversations leading to channel switching 

These, among other factors, can lead to agent frustration which in turn may lead to agent attrition and customer churn. This is a far cry from the excellence we are trying to achieve. 

The Human Element of Operational Excellence

Operational excellence is inspired from the top down but must be fulfilled from the bottom up so let’s focus on the human elements in the overall operation and consider where we can enhance the experiences for both agent and customer. Three key steps are: 

  • Empowering your agents 
  • Listening to your agents  
  • Breaking down silos between departments 

By providing your agents with regular training you will arm them to resolve conflicts and achieve real First Contact Resolution. This will make them more valuable to your operation and, in turn, make them feel more appreciated. Your front-line support staff can also provide priceless insight about your customers so always listen to what they have to say.  

Remember, the goalposts are always moving so your processes should be modified in accordance. Frequent coaching and feedback sessions equip your agents to deal with the ever-changing landscape. And again, listen to what your front-line staff think of new processes – do they make for good agent and good customer experiences? 

Siloed departments can cause bottlenecks in resolving issues. If the person that can resolve the issue is in department B, then that person should be readily available to the front-line agent in department A or even directly available to the customer ensuring First Contact Resolution. 

Embrace Automation

Consumers are continually growing more comfortable with smart features in everyday processes. We now interact with our appliances using digital personal assistants. We are happy to self-serve in situations where previously we would have looked for human agents to help us. 

Perhaps the most crucial change to be made in the pursuit of operational excellence mindset is for brands to fully embrace automation. Since the introduction of working from home, agent attrition and resourcing have become familiar issues. However, they have helped to prove automation as both logical and necessary in customer support journeys.  


Smaller brands that pride themselves on a personalised approach are still hesitant to dive-in and deploy automation in customer service, given the poor experiences with chatbots in their first iteration. Chatbots, though, have improved dramatically since they first arrived on the scene and with so much interest and investment in AI and Natural Language Understanding, they will continue to advance in their abilities to deliver more personalised experiences, perhaps one day becoming indistinguishable from a human agent. However, they are not quite at that stage yet where they understand human idiom and nuance so until they do, make it clear to your customers that they are interacting with a bot.  

What to Automate

When deciding the journeys to automate when embarking on your first bot projects, bear in mind these guidelines: 

  • Allow chatbots to conduct the simplest and most mundane conversations, freeing up your valuable support staff to deal with the more complex interactions. 
  • Use chatbots to assist in your processes by triaging the customers ahead of interactions with human agents. Remember to make sure that your human agents are using the information gathered by the bot – customers hate repeating themselves. 
  • Employ automation to suggest articles to your live agents for speedier resolution of customer enquiries.    

Once you have gained confidence in the automation of these simpler journeys you can consider more complex journeys, such as upgrade or purchase journeys, that require full integration into the backend systems. 

Data Tells the Operational Excellence Story

Customer interactions with your bots will yield copious amounts of data which will reveal interesting patterns in customer behaviours. Leverage the data from conversation transcripts, intent detection and journey logs to optimise your user journeys. More personalised experiences will contribute to the conversion of customers into advocates. But don’t forget, it doesn’t stop there. Constant communication, continuous improvements and workforce engagement are what will keep you ahead of the pack in the pursuit of the operational excellence mindset. 

We Help Brands Achieve Operational Excellence

Achieve operational excellence within your organization by promoting best practices within your Customer Service team. The Stobee team can recommend which journeys are suitable to automate. We will also help you analyse the data and show you how to use the learnings to optimise your customer journeys and related business processes.


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