Tom and Patricia describe how to make sure you are easy to do business with—and how to ensure that your employees don’t have to buck the system to do right by your customers.
- A really important principle of service design is great service design means heroics should not be performed on either the part of the service provider or the customer. Onstage is what the customer sees, what the customer experiences. Think about when you're at the theater. Onstage is what you see before you. I don't know what's happening backstage. It could be chaos backstage. Everyone could be running around, not being able to make their costume changes, but somehow they get onstage on time. Well, to me as a customer, that seems great.
But the stage manager is going to be going nuts and is going to have a meeting at the end of that performance saying, "Guys, we got to tighten up." So you really need to have both of those elements in place because onstage is going to help determine whether the customer wants to come back because they feel they've had the experience that they were promised that they had a right to expect. Offstage is about were you able to deliver reliability, repeatability, scalability, and profitability? Without any one of those four things, you are not going to be able to consistently do what your customers want and expect from you and do it in a way that satisfies your strategic needs.
- There's a whole bit of thinking that companies need to do, which is to examine whether or not they're wasting their customers' time. 'Cause time is money to them just as it is to you. So this idea that lean production is good on the production side we all understand, but let's also understand what we can do to create what Womack and Jones call lean consumption so that you're designing things so that you're easy to do business with. - One of the ways you can tell if you're easy to do business with is try to be your own customer.
Really do what your customers would have to experience to get something accomplished. How hard is that? Another way is to talk to the people who are facing the customers, who are actually dealing with them, who understand what their pain points are. What do they complain about? What do they have problems with? Look at where you are constantly seeing errors. Look at where you're spending a lot of money. This is where you're having trouble. These are ways you can tell if you're easy to do business with and if you're doing a good job of doing business.
You may be easy to do business with, but if you're spending too much money doing it, that's not necessarily a good economic model for you. - One of the companies we talked to is a company called Mobile Mini. You may have seen them. They're the guys who provide the shipping containers, the mobile offices, the mobile storage units all around the country. They call themselves the Mercedes of storage because they really want to be the top end, the luxury storage container thing. And one of the things they realized is that the ease of doing business with them was something that they could measure.
So they very simply go out and ask, "How easy were we to do business with?" And they get a numerical score. And if their score is low or if a customer has a problem, they call 'em up and say, "What's wrong?" They made some interesting changes as a result. At one point, they decided that they could better customer service if created some centralized call centers so that you could call and find out all the information about whatever was going on. The problem with this is that a lot of these containers are at construction sites, schools.
They're very local. So, where's the container? Oh, it's in the alley behind Ed's Hardware Store. Nobody in the call center can figure that out. So they discovered that in trying to do something that was going to make customers' lives easier, it actually made customers' lives harder. And so they decentralized again so that they could bring the information back with the kind of local knowledge that was essential to their business. A really good example of finding out what your pain points are and what you can do to make it easier to do business with.
- Define service design.
- Explain the importance of creating a coherent experience for the customer.
- Describe a strategy to provide a great customer service experience and meet strategic needs.