Process comes before a smile in customer service


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When we are at the receiving end of poor customer service, it unfailingly ticks us off.

Being champions of process only makes it a little more painful because even while we go through a first-hand experience of poor customer service –- be it over the phone or a counter –- we are also immediately able to see beneath the surface and understand why things are likely going wrong.

Now, on a theoretical plane, you might think that this ability to see beneath the surface to see why you are having a bad moment of truth, can also give you the ability to empathise and tolerate poor customer service.

Not the way it works

But that does not necessarily happen. For us process folks, particularly, it seems more often than not to make it worse because we are thinking “how can you not know…” and “how can there not be…..” and “how could you not have…” And before you know it, you find a huge reason to believe that the organization has really not thought through customer service well enough. You clearly see all the wrong ways in which they see their ‘customers’ and how alarmingly short-sighted the service activities are that they’ve built around the customer, aka YOU.

Suddenly all the little bits of insight you are spotting add up to give you a very good reason to believe maybe you aren’t really King, nor even meant to be anything close, but only an insignificant element that adds to the profits of an indifferent organization.

The casualties are loss of a customer, loss of respect for a brand that, to be fair, took a lot of effort to build, and worse, if you blog about it (naming names), huge embarrassment.

But on the other hand, think about a really positive customer experience –- and you suddenly seem to have enough reason to admire and respect an organization and its processes –- and you are willing to repay that experience with something far more valuable…your loyalty.

Although we may all have quite a few personal examples to cite otherwise (both good and bad), the funny thing is that regardless of whether you have a good experience or a bad one, it is not actually always about the the person on the other end of the line or on the other side of the counter – although most of our frustration maybe directed at that individual. In the final analysis, one thing is constant.

It. Is. Always. The. Process.

Ian Gotts wrote a very insightful piece here titled Silicon-based versus carbon-based customer service citing an excellent example of how a well thought-out customer service process can be executed well even if it wasn’t a human interacting with you. The imaginary conversation he has with ‘JPEG and Silicon’ based Nano Norm is good enough for you to see the power of a thoroughly thought-through customer service process.

And then, you can’t help but wonder what you can’t achieve with something that ought to be better than even the Nano Norm: Carbon-based customer service.

And then you wonder why, and what in the living world, is it that makes it so elusive……


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