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……


                     Originally published on www.successfulworkplace.com. Link to original post here.



  1. Taran Soodan April 25, 2013 at 1:28 am

    This is a great article about how process improvement professionals see customer service. You can also add that there are internal customers too.
    For example, a Controller has the CFO as their internal customer. In order to keep his customer happy, the Controller must make sure the Finance department is running well and helping to generate profits. In fact, a Finance department which embraces a culture of business process improvement can generate significant benefits – streamlined business processes, higher quality and rationalized reports, reduced costs, more analytical review time, and improved internal customer service. The unexpected challenges along the way often undermine even the most determined efforts for those without the proper tools. For example, during the Financial Close process, up to 85% of capacity can be devoted to low value tasks, data gathering, data scrubbing, etc. This leaves only 15% of capacity remaining for the tasks the CFO values most: analytical review & recommendations.
    Not every Controller will be able to transform the finance department in a short time-frame, but even a small continuous improvement program will produce substantial rewards. Those more modest initiatives, however, can still encounter stumbling blocks and almost no one provides effective resources for business process improvement for free. These resources can include end-to-end business process map templates, KPIs, best practices and other improvement opportunities.
    Most finance employees who want end-to-end Finance business process maps will have to wheel and deal with executives and convince them to hire an expensive consulting firm to come in and make business process maps of their processes, with no guarantee that any real improvements will be made. Since the data contained in the maps is so valuable, no consulting firm will make that data available for even the client to use if they tried to replicate the work themselves. However, for business analysts with no executive-level decision making capabilities, some resources actually are available. This free online source provides Finance business process map templates, KPIs, best practices and other improvement opportunities: http://opsdog.com/improvement/finance/processmaps

  2. Jaisundar April 25, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Thanks – that’s a great Information!

  3. Shep Hyken August 31, 2013 at 4:05 am

    No matter how nice people are, if the process they are working with doesn’t work, the customer experience is going to fall apart. The opposite is also true. The process can be perfect, but with the wrong people supporting it, you can create a bad customer experience as well. It takes the combination of the two.

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