Friday, October 7, 2011

Serve your customers not your processes

I tend op agree with Snyder in his article for PM Hut that we need to put ourselves in the shoes of the customer when addressing their concerns. I have heard many times how employees explain company processes to customers when addressing their problems. Is it because the processes makes employees feel safe that they tend to hide in it's comfort zone. Processes are guidelines to address issues and should not be used as the argument when addressing customer complaints.

Ben Snyder writes in PM Hut,

Most organizations are service oriented. Either they are serving external customers or internal customers. Serving customers involves lots of interactions in a variety of circumstances and situations. Individuals who are customer facing and handle customer issues need to be engaging and empathetic to do their job well. This is the first rule of customer service.

It is normal for organizations to develop processes for serving customers so they can be more efficient in their efforts and consistent in their quality. These processes are usually developed with the customer in mind but they always aid the organization more than the customer. In addition, like all process they only address the majority of the potential situations, not all of them.

A common problem for service oriented organizations is that their people engage and serve their processes and not their customers. The processes become an insulator between the customer and the organization. People in the organization view a customer’s issue as just one of many that they have to deal with. But on the other hand, the customer views their issue as one of a kind and very unique to them. This sets the stage for a frustrated customer. They do not feel as though they are being engaged properly and they experience little empathy from the organization. If the customer’s issue is truly unique there ins’t enough engagement on the organizations part to recognize it; the organization assumes it is just one of the same issues they deal with every day. It is not hard to see how this leads to a bad customer experience.

To avoid this, organizations must instill in their people a heightened desire to see all issues from the customer’s perspective. They must use process to ensure consistent quality but be prepared to deviate from them to engage a customer’s unique issue even if it is inefficient to do so. Lastly, organizations need to make sure their people realize that every opportunity they get to serve the customer is an opportunity to increase the customer’s desire to work with their organization. This is the surest way to achieve job security. Serve your customers and not your processes.

About the author:
Ben Snyder is the CEO of Systemation, (, a project management, business analysis, and agile development training and consulting company that has been training professionals since 1959. Systemation is a results-driven training and consulting company that maximizes the project-related performance of individuals and organizations. Known for instilling highly practical, immediately usable processes and techniques, Systemation has proven to be an innovative agent of business transformation for many government entities and Fortune 2000 companies, including Verizon Wireless, Barclays Bank, Mattel, The Travelers Companies, Bridgestone, Amgen, Wellpoint and Whirlpool.

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