Over the weekend I was in a line at a chain
restaurant where a customer had pushed his way into the front of the line and
began ranting about something wrong with his order, and he demanded to see the
manager immediately. While I tried to ignore him without success I heard him
say at one point “The customer is always right you know!”
This made me think about it for a moment. While
there may have been an issue with his order all resources were being expended
to correct his issue while other customers waited. When I finally got to the
front to order the person behind the cash register said. “He forgot to order an
item and so it wasn’t given to him.” This made me think, is the customer always
If you were to ask a customer they might
think so… after all this motto has been around for awhile and is engrained in
the way we expect service to be delivered. The premise is that through the
delivery of a particular service(s) that customer satisfaction is the primary objective.
For some this may imply that we do whatever is needed to achieve this objective. You may have also heard the phrase customer is king.
The challenge is that people, much like
kings, can be wrong from time to time. What is important is how the interaction is handled by
the service provider.
The flaw in this example, in my opinion, is giving
the customer whatever they want.
Whether you believe they are right or not at the end of the day the way in
which you manage this interaction will ultimately determine the baseline of how
you deliver service. Rather than simply giving them whatever they wanted, asking them
what they believe was expected and what was wrong may have more value long term. At the very least soliciting this
information will allow you as a service provider the opportunity to minimize
this type of challenge going forward. In this example if the order could have been
verified beforehand, perhaps this item wouldn’t have been missed at all. The risk
is that the delivery of service to the other customers was delayed as a result,
while you have appeased one customer you may have inadvertently put off other
Determining a strategy for this interaction needs to be identified
so that if (and when) this sort of issue arises your staff who deal directly with customers will be able to address each escalation in a consistent way. Don’t
forget they are also feeling frustrated from bad service delivery, since they are on the front lines. Documenting a
list of customer impacting issues will allow you to improve service to all
customers, not just the ones which are experiencing issues.
This applies to the delivery of IT services
to our business in the same way and is why service management is important. Being
able to not only manage, but continuously review and improve the customer
experience will allow you to enable your business to reach their goals.
I would love to hear some feedback on this
Labels: Business Relationship Management, Continual Service Improvement, ITSM, Service Delivery, Service Management