My quick answer to my own question is, “It better…and soon.”
Buyer-seller relations are rapidly evolving, putting buyers in the driver’s seat held by sellers for decades. The consequences of “buyer power” include increasingly idiosyncratic customer behavior from customers wanting to do business “their way” and far more customer pushback than previously. To the latter point, the seller defense, “It’s company policy,” has become outright offensive to buyers. Buyers are forcing sellers into case-by-case negotiations, which on the seller side are conducted by empowered company representatives, often newly authorized to make judgment calls resolving customer issues.
From a process perspective, supporting judgment calls and dealing with highly variable customer behavior both call for decision-support process (typically application software enabled) more than work rule-based process. But we’ve yet to see much progress in that direction. It’s hard moving on from highly-honed skills designing process in a more structured and repetitive work environment, but we must.