This is the first in a series of six posts that will introduce you to the work of Bromford Squads. You will learn how the Lab approach is trying to help colleagues reimagine customer experience at Bromford.

In today’s post we explain the problem we hope squads will fix.

In the first few months of Bromford Lab we had no shortage of colleagues and customers pitching their ideas.

We quickly realised that the ideas were often in search of a problem. They didn't actually fix things that needed fixing. 

This is why it's really important to have a clear service vision and strategy that your innovation efforts can align to.

So we adopted a back to basics approach: taking people to the root of the problem. It’s no use having radical and disruptive thinking if it doesn’t improve the lives of customers.

One of the first problems we identified was that the Bromford customer service offer was out of sync with the Bromford Deal. The Deal was all about unlocking potential and being empowered to make decisions. It was about personalisation and trust

However our customer service offer was largely about efficiency, consistency and a one size fits all approach. 

If one part of your business is all about personalisation and another is about reducing cost it’s only a matter of time before they clash. Can the two co-exist? It's a big problem to solve , and only a few (Amazon , for example) balance it well. 

Additionally we identified a siloed approach to thinking about the customer experience. Over time Bromford has formed into specialist teams that have a relationship with each other, but sometimes fail to truly form around the customer. This isn't a criticism , it happens in most places. Indeed it was self identified by colleagues as a barrier to thinking differently.

The first thing we did to crack this was work with colleagues and customers to reimagine the customer journey. However - we didn’t want to use a conventional approach which often maps the touchpoints that are important to the organisation but not to the customer. 

So we broke it down into five critical experiences the customer has:

·      Finding Bromford - how they end up here

·      Becoming a customer - the application/purchase experience

·      Starting well - the critical impressions formed during the early days of service

·      Being with Bromford - the package of service you get when you are with us

·      Leaving Bromford - the end of the relationship and moving on 

A typical approach might map this out using existing functions like complaints or sales , but this isn't always helpful if you truly want people to imagine a different business. No customer ever asked for a complaints service : the root problem is that complaints happen in the first place.

You can see this mapped out below on our “Wailing Wall” - which links our known problems to innovation opportunities. 

The Low Tech "Wailing Wall" - which maps problems that need fixing through creative thinking.

The Low Tech "Wailing Wall" - which maps problems that need fixing through creative thinking.

The next thing we did was to help colleagues organise their problems into themes.  How would we organise if we started again?

The things that really matter to people are having a home , a job and friends so we organised the themes as follows:

  • Money: Affordability from financial capability to jobs 
  • Health: The whole area of wellbeing
  • Community: Covering everything about being part of a community and the promotion of local social networks
  • Home: The way our properties are built and maintained and the choices people have about them

So we've managed to identify the key points of our customer journey and we've established four services themes.  These have highlighted lots and lots of problems.

The next step is to go into problem solving mode. But how can we get colleagues thinking and acting like a startup rather than a 1,200 people company with 50 years of history?

We'll explore that in our next post on Bromford Squads.