Like other businesses, planning consultants experience some degree of friction. Friction is a fact of life, but that shouldn’t stop us from aiming to reduce or eliminate it wherever possible.
One area where this is especially important is the customer experience.
It’s in planning processes where most friction occurs. Therefore, our approach has been to streamline and systemise these processes as much as possible.
Four Pillars of Intelligent Planning
When we first clarified our purpose as a brand and a business around the concept of intelligent planning, we developed these four pillars:
Maximise the positive customer experience
Use advanced information technology to improve how we work
Develop our own skills to deepen our sense of professional satisfaction
Inspire young people to widen the future talent pool for planning.
Of these, the positive customer experience has perhaps the broadest implications. Its impact stretches beyond direct clients, affecting every stakeholder that interacts with us.
It influences how people perceive planning in general.
Who are these stakeholders and how does their experience with Maddox influence our culture?
Local planning authorities
Other consultants and development teams
Our own team.
To us, a stakeholder is, basically, anyone we engage with.
Potential Friction Flashpoints
It comes down to the user experience. This includes things that take place during the process as much as the final outcome.
The process has the potential for friction whenever there is stakeholder involvement. To reduce friction, we need to demystify the process in practical terms.
For example, when we write a report, it’s always with the end-user in mind. They need to be able to grasp the essential information and analysis we’re giving them.
Another is the project’s workflow. We’re aware of keeping stakeholders in the loop and making the process as transparent as possible.
A big part of this is reducing the administration involved. This way, we minimise the risk of delays to the process.
We’ve introduced a streamlined quotation system and made sure we’re easy to reach when stakeholders want information.
Some of this is quite simple, such as putting contact numbers on all our communications – you’d be surprised at how many people don’t do this.
The friction-free customer experience requires more than good intentions. We’ve crystalised our approach to stakeholders in our guidelines.
This guidance covers the typical project lifecycle and fundamentals such as the language we use. It’s all about clarity and brevity driving a user-friendly experience.
I think friction occurs when a business puts its own processes above the needs of its stakeholders. Yes, these processes are usually essential. But they need to work in a context where the customer experience drives the work.
An Operating System
Creating the equivalent of an operating system doesn’t have to mean that everything is automated and inflexible.
On the contrary, we’ve created a system that is people-driven to serve our broad definition of a stakeholder.
As a system, it’s both efficient and adaptable. It’s a mechanism with different internal components, like cogs turning. This enables the whole planning consultation process to run smoothly.
The wheel keeps turning.