Buyers of goods and services have certain intentions in mind when they establish a business relationship with a business. In the case of health insurance it is to stay insured in time of need. You think that is obvious as an unbiased outsider, but most insurance companies breaks the implicit promise in their relationships by failing to act on this intention. Why do they do this? Because their intention is to optimize profit, and it influences (read: dominates) how they design customer processes.
The same is true in the Credit Card business. Last month I received my monthly Account Statement and it stated as “Balance Due” a credit of $678.84. Good for them: I overpaid. I usually submit payment early for reasons I won’t go into. OK, Saturday night I opened my new statement and not only do I owe about $6,000 (business trip, mostly), but there is also a penalty for late payment. Huh? Previous statement = credit, current statement = late payment fee?
I will not bore you with the details of how this happened, because each of us has their own story. But here is my point: did a bank or Credit Card issuer ever think of pro-active notification of impending late-fee? In the airline industry you can set up an alert, just like in a half dozen other industries. Did a bank or Credit Card issuer ever think of contextual help so you could see WHY an event occured on your bill? Do they think it is the intention of someone who pays on time each and every month for 48 months to suddenly NOT submit payment on time? Do they care?
Great institutions are adopting an ‘intent-driven’ approach to process design, aligning their need for profit with your needs for goods and services, and this is a thrust of our research both current and future. In the meantime – before you design another customer-facing process, think about how it might fulfill or not fulfill the basic intentions they have in doing business with you. Otherwise all of this technology networking you to the customer is the antithesis of social: it is anti-social.