I recently read something interesting about the implementation of the first ATM Machine at Barclay’s bank. The ATM is undoubtedly a revolutionary piece of technology. It saved banks millions in payroll and gave customers access to cash 24/7, 365 days a year. To the executives who implemented this new technology, it was a win-win situation.
However, over time the banks utilizing ATM technology realized that something else was happening below the surface – their customer satisfaction numbers were going down. People studying the industry soon found out that when customers cannot visibly see the work that’s going on in the background, they perceive that less effort is put into serving them and in turn, they value the product/service less.
When considering this story of the ATM, I can’t help but think about our industry. So often in adoption, there is little to no operational transparency – both internally and externally. Hopeful adoptive parents sign checks and jump through hoops, never knowing how the process works, while caseworkers and office staff may never know how executives handle expectant mother marketing or technology platforms.
If you’re an adoption agency or organization that is experiencing a bout of negative complaints or feedback, you may want to consider implementing more operational transparency. One piece of feedback we often get from the hopeful adoptive parents we work with is that they feel lost in the process. We’ve talked to families who are putting a second mortgage on their home just to complete the process – yet, they have no idea where that money goes, what it’s spent on or how it affects their outcome. When you put customers (from any industry) in a position where they’re putting large amounts of money on the line, you have to be transparent with them and give them some peace of mind. Whether it’s updating them on their status via email once a week and giving them a bi-weekly phone call – being open and available goes a long way in making customers happy. Touchpoints work, you just be pro-active.
Practicing operational transparency internally is important too. One thing that I touched on last week was the importance of having a staff that was dynamic and creative. I always strive to surround myself with people who willing to learn and wear different hats around the company. This gives our company the flexibility to move people around and allows our employees to try new things. However, we couldn’t achieve this dynamic without being transparent with our employees about all of our processes and technologies. Even the employee that’s lowest on the totem pole needs to understand how executives make decisions and how the production process works from beginning to end.
All-in-all, operational transparency fosters trust between organizations and their customers and creates a culture of understanding within the organization itself. We do our best to be transparent with our customers every day and are continually working on getting better at it in the future. We recommend you do too.