NWD – The Missing Component of Customer Service


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Adopt the “No Wrong Door” Philosophy of Singopore’s Public Services to Enhance Customer Experience

When you call a service helpline, one of the most dreaded (and common) responses is that you have reached the wrong service desk. Often you have to make the call again. Other times, if you’re lucky to be transferred to the correct service desk, you have to repeat all the information you’ve already given, once again. It is, to say the least, a very irritating and frustrating experience.

Strangely, in some companies, sub-sections within the service department work in silos and cannot or do not transfer calls amongst each other. This obviously increases the effort a customer has to put in to reach the service desk and even before the service begins, dissatisfaction sets in. Companies seem oblivious to this fact and are distressed by plummeting customer satisfaction scores.
The public services of Singapore realized this as a critical problem and decided to do something about it. The problem was analyzed from the customer’s perspective. Once the customer was center stage, the solution arrived at was simple – Eliminate the efforts of a customer to contact and convey issues to any of the public service departments.
A policy was introduced in 2004, whereby the customer could call any service helpline number and register an issue for any of the public service departments and it would be internally coordinated; from acceptance of the request, its transfer to the correct department, to getting the problem resolved, all done seamlessly. The customer would no longer be shunted from one desk to another, no need to make a second call, no stress and no extra effort. The policy, in all obviousness and simplicity, was called “No Wrong Door” (NWD).
In July 2012 this initiative was further enhanced with the implementation of the FRP, or the First Responder Protocol. The department that received the call would take onus for the issue and become the inter-departmental coordinator and the single point of communication for that customer. It further reduced the customer’s interaction to a single point of contact. An amazing customer experience!
The policy, having worked well in Singapore, is being embraced by many governmental, public service and non-profit organizations around the world. But surprisingly the private sector has not taken to it, though they stand to benefit tremendously from the initiative and seriously need to up their game on customer experience.
There are 3 reasons for NWD to still remain a neglected initiative:

  1. Shortsightedness: Companies are too involved with creating the perfect experience for the customer during a sale. However, the customer’s maximum interactions with the company happens after the sale. The focus of customer experience needs to be realigned from a retention and loyalty perspective.
  2. Cost: There is undoubtedly some investment required for technological improvements to the CRM and communication systems currently being used at service desks or call centers. But now with the advent of big data, upgrading systems and technology is an imminent possibility. Including the technological requirements for NWD at this time is prudent.
  3. Employee Knowledge: It’s true, not all employees know everything. But they don’t need to. NWD is not about the receiver of the call resolving the situation. It is about alleviating customer stress by owning the problem and coordinating its resolution. It’s all about empathy for the customer.

Company vision, strong processes, the right technology and, above all, employee engagement are key to implement NWD. Companies are already invested in these four dynamics of the business; they now need to include the missing component of customer experience the No Wrong Door policy.
An e-learning course on NWD is available through Singapore government’s Civil Service College.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Sunil Panikker
Sunil Panikker is a business consultant specializing in customer service, operations and business strategy. He has honed his expertise over 30 years of experience, working in senior management positions, with companies having global footprints, and responsibilities that have been cross-functional & multi-locational. His blog shares the experience and expertise assimilated from managing customer experience across multiple diverse industries.


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