We all know that there’s more to business success than simply providing a great service. There are other considerations such as cost and productivity to take into account. However, it could be that focusing too much on efficiency isn’t actually the road to success. It might even be making your organisation less efficient. Here’s how putting customers at the top of your priority list can help your organisation to succeed.
In large organisations with many layers of corporate governance, it’s easy to gauge the success of your business by what’s measurable. In the case of service providers, this might mean prioritising the speed of the service you provide, or minimising the cost of dealing with each customer. You might assume that so long as you are achieving your targets on cost and efficiency, your service is running as smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Whilst such targets can be useful, focusing on them as levers for change can prevent leaders from seeing the bigger picture. In many cases, good service can actually cost less. I spoke to Nick Wood, managing partner at Quo-Change Consulting, about the effect that improving service can have on all aspects of an organisation.
According to Nick, many problems in customer service stem from looking too hard at outcomes, and not enough at process. In his work he often encounters service providers with long end-to-end customer journey times, and a low success rate for providing the right service first time. It might appear that a great service is being provided if each customer contact is being handled quickly, but this could mask the fact that some customers are being passed around multiple times before they reach a person qualified to help them. Likewise, one-size-fits-all solutions can seem efficient, but they often result in customers having to receive additional help in the future when their problem isn’t solved in the first instance.
Nick explained that these common problems can be solved by putting more emphasis on ‘what really matters’ to customers when using a service. Profound change can be achieved by tailoring your service to address the most common issues that customers face. By equipping staff with the tools they need to resolve these issues, you can ensure that customers are getting what they need first time.
Nick worked with one organisation to shift priorities towards their customers. Before he began, up to a third of customers needed further assistance after the original service they were provided with. This was a symptom of service failure- customers not getting what they needed first time. As a result, the organisation saw increased customer contact. This impacted the operational capacity to serve other customers. Following Nick’s work, service failure dropped by over 75%, and customers were more able to get the help they needed.
And the benefit wasn’t just felt by customers. Improving service delivery minimised resource waste, leading to a reduction in cost. The organisation was able to handle customer demand more quickly and efficiently, increasing their capacity to help a larger volume of customers. Leaders –perhaps surprisingly- found that by not focusing primarily on cost and efficiency, both areas improved. Moreover, job satisfaction amongst staff increased, as they were better equipped to help the customers they encountered in their work.
At Quo-Change, this customer-focused method is known as the ‘4D transformation model’ which is built on Systems Thinking principles. The model was uniquely developed by the consultancy as a way of applying Systems Thinking to organisations in a practical and sensitive way. Nick describes the method as a “pragmatic and profound approach for implementing change”. He and his fellow partners at Quo-Change have used this method to support leaders in the UK and Internationally, with fantastic results in service, efficiency, and staff morale.
Poor service has a cost not just on the customer, but also on your staff and your organisation. By putting customers back at the top of your priority list, you can drive sustainable change across all aspects of your organisation. If you’d like to explore how systems thinking might work for you, the Quo-Change team would be happy to talk with you. Visit the contact page to get in touch.