How do you paint your customer service strategy?


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Martin Hill-Wilson writes the blog, BrainFood Extra: Listening for anything about the customer. Recently he has written a thoughtful set of posts on painting a customer service strategy. It’s chock full of good ideas for getting started and helpful warnings of the sand traps that can slow you down. Check it out!

One place that caught my attention right away was his choice of metaphor, using painting as the way to think of forging a customer service strategy.

So just for fun, let’s consider the different styles of painting a customer service strategy:

1. Paint by the numbers approach to customer service strategy. Usually noted among devotees of benchmarking and those seeking a simple formula for customer service. It achieves the objective of creating a strategy, but hardly a distinctive one, except in the eyes of the one doing the painting!

2. Finger painting approach to customer service strategy. A high energy, high engagement approach to customer service, most notable in companies where everyone needs to get their fingerprints on the strategy before it moves forward. Works great in small startups, but not so well in large firms. By the time the strategy is crafted in a larger firm you’ve probably touched all stakeholders. However, if this is done without sufficient structure or governance (that is, everyone’s voice counts equally), you can’t really tell what the picture is about. Your strategy then hangs on the wall for a while, some continue to admire it with pride, and you pass by it everyday until it gets old and wrinkly, waiting to be replaced by the next bit of art or strategy.

3. Impressionist painting of customer service strategy. For the right people this provides the perfect way to engage with the canvass; each person sees a common picture just a little differently as it is open to interpretation. This is ideal for settings where you need broad guidelines and a common image of customer service, but must also allow for each service provider to complete the vision in their own way. Impressionist customer strategies typically provide more autonomy to their service provider.

4. Dutch Masters of customer service strategy. Planning, perspective, and precision abound; these strategies paint a plan so that the light seems to shine exactly where you want it to be on the customer. A clear coherent strategy looks real and is often elaborately framed. The skillful use of light and dark, of precision and perspective, often means that these strategies explicitly convey a ‘right way’ and a ‘wrong way’ to service customers, with little tolerance for ambiguity.

5. Graffiti as a customer service strategy in action. For me this is actually the lack of a coherent strategy.  With no central frame of reference, different groups decide what they think looks nice to the customer. They spray their ideas around; sometimes they even get into competition with others who are also spraying ideas of what customer service should look like. Not that these ideas in and of themselves are bad, but they often look distracting to external customers who are trying to match the picture to the overall landscape.

There are many other forms of art, just as there are many approaches to customer strategy.

How has your firm organized and managed to craft, paint or achieve its customer service strategy?

What metaphors most powerfully capture your organizational approach to shaping a customer service strategy?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Marc Sokol
A psychologist with an eye for the ways organizational dynamics make it possible or impossible to delight customers, I see the world from the eyes of customers, employees and leaders who strive to transform customer experience.


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