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How to lead your team to a culture of response & improve customer experiences

How to lead your team to a culture of response & improve customer experiences

It’s no secret that we live in a real-time world that’s primarily dictated by the speed at which we get things done. As the mobile, social and Internet of Things (IoT) movement keep growing, reliability and uptime on websites and applications must be top of mind for all leadership within companies.

According to Forrester, 42 percent of the global population will own a smart phone by the end of 2015. With almost half of the world’s population carrying a smart computer in their pockets, business leaders need to think 10 steps ahead to avoid the inevitable pending doom of IT glitches, system crashes and downtime.

Downtime typically costs companies $5,600 per minute, Gartner has said. Aside from the financial losses, downtime creates negative customer experiences, and credibility loss for businesses. So how does one avoid the massive train wreck? Is there one magic tool to solve all the problems? No. I think it starts at the inception of the organizational culture. That’s why I’m calling on all leaders and businesses to foster a mindset and culture of response.

Here are a few best practices leaders can embrace to equip their teams with the ammunition they need to preemptively strike against downtime, before they become bigger issues for customer experiences.

Use predictive analytics to prioritize problem-solving faster

When downtime occurs, it’s often hard to distinguish between major incidents and minor ones. As there are many layers to that onion, businesses should use predictive analytics help to reduce the excess noise experienced during these times.

Once the noise is reduced to a manageable level, teams can help to identify the core problems that are relatively easy to solve, and those that occur again and again. By simply subtracting the insignificant incidents out of the equation, you can ensure your teams are focused on solving the harder problems that have a real impact to the organization and customer.

Embrace failure

To guarantee reliability and uptime for customers, leaders must empower their teams to embrace failure in order to solve major problems. What does that mean? Shift the mindset by driving more weekly meetings and introduce failure drills. You can always hope for the best, but you must always plan for the worst.

For example, at PagerDuty, we have Failure Fridays. We make an agenda of all the issues we want to address, and then we hold one-hour meetings to work on as many issues as we can. Once we’re done, we regroup and hold a “root-cause analysis.” Instead of discussing what we did wrong, we start the conversation by asking why a problem occurred. Then we work backward and understand how the team responded.

People tend to focus on the process and tools to solve technical issues, but rarely do we discuss the culture and philosophical beliefs behind it. By instilling newer practices, like thinking outside of the box, and embracing a responsive culture and mindset, your teams can transition from a place of fear — the need to respond all at once — to one of strategy. Your operations will be empowered. Your business will flourish. Your customers will be happier and have a better experience.

Jonathan Wilkinson is vice president of products at PagerDuty.

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