I recently listened to an excellent episode of Doug Burdett’s Marketing Book Podcast. Doug interviewed Mark Schaefer about the most recent edition of his book, The Tao of Twitter.
Included among a lot of great marketing information was an interesting story that Mark told near the end of the podcast.
As do many small business owners, Mark leases a car rather than purchasing one.
The manufacturer of Mark’s car has automated its sales and marketing processes, as have many corporations.
Dear *|CUSTNAME|: Your Lease Will Soon Be Ending
An algorithm in Mark’s automobile manufacturer’s system saw that his lease was almost over. This triggered an email stream that resulted in an Mark setting an online appointment at the dealership to set up a new lease.
However, when Mark got to the dealership, the person he was supposed to meet with wasn’t there. It was his day off.
The salesperson apparently didn’t know those emails had gone out to Mark. They were all auto generated. No one in the dealership knew that Mark was coming in that day.
Mark felt that as a 20-year customer of the dealership, someone should have been waiting for him with balloons and a cup of coffee.
Mark had to show an email to the sales manager that contained a special offer on a new lease, as the sales manager was unaware of that offer.
The only person [or thing] that cared was an algorithm.
The Process Map’s Missing Activities
There’s nothing wrong with automating processes, as long as potential dehumanization holes are plugged. In this case the process map should have included steps such as:
- Check the salesperson’s calendar
- Present salesperson’s calendar’s white space to the customer
- Add the customer’s selected meeting time to the salesperson’s calendar
- Notify the salesperson that a 20-year customer is scheduled to come in to meet at the specified time
- Recommend greeting the long time customer appropriately — if not with balloons, with a nice branded tchotchke
- Inform the salesperson and his or her manager of any special offers that were made to the customer
It’s not only about process mapping. It’s about having the both the technology and the user training programs in place to support the properly defined process.
In this case, the system that’s driving the process needs to have real time access to all salespeople’s calendars. The salespeople need to be trained to keep their calendars current and completely block off any days off.
A complete process map will help determine whether new technologies need to be acquired or if existing technologies can be configured to support the process.