by Patty Azzarello
Be careful what you measureâ¦
BMW serves as a good example of a company that measures service vs. providing it.Â Â ButÂ many companies fall into this trap.Â Does yours?
Here is an example of what I mean:
My last car service:
- I felt bullied by the sales and service people when they told me, as they do each time, thatÂ I âhave to give them a 5 on everythingâ when the survey people call.
- That is not service for me.Â Itâs gaming the measures for them, (and torturing me).
- In my last car service, they failed to reset some system.Â A warning light came on, and I was forced to go back.Â It really screwed up my day.
- When they realized it was their fault, I got only a cursory, âsorry about thatâ.
- After telling them, âyou know, when the survey people call, I am not going to give you a 5 this timeâ and giving them several opportunities to make it better â âIs there something you would like to do for me to improve my experienceâ? â there was no response.
- I then gave the low scores on the phone survey â by the way, the survey taker/process is designed only to ask the questions, not to offer any service when someone is upset.
- Later I got a call from my service guy. It was clear he was forced to call me to follow up on his low score. But the call was about him giving me a hard time because I got him in trouble. (more torture for me)
- As much fun as that was for me, I decided to give them another opportunity.Â I said to him â âactually I was going to call you because I need two other [small things], can you help me?â
- Now here was a chance to provide actual service, when no one was watching or measuring.Â He assured me he would call me back later that afternoon to let me know if he had the part so I could stop by on my way home.
- I never heard from him again.
Do your measures and service processes serve your customers or torture them?
Do you measure the speed of closing problems?
This is a very typical measure.Â But itâs important to understand that this measure canÂ cause youÂ to ignore customer problems, because your service staff is motivated to close out problems quickly,Â vs. take the time to actually fix them, because spending that time would result in a poor measured result.
So you end up with a backlog of problems that could have been fixed, unhappy customers, and sparkling measures for speed of closing problem reports.
- Measuring the number of problems whose root cause has been resolved.
- Or measure the number of customers who report their problem has been solved to their satisfaction.
- Or look for customers who have multiple open issues, or issues open for long time periods and just call them!
Is your service staff trained in following service processes or in providing service?
In my example above, at every step, people were correctly following a process, resulting in my getting more and more tortured.
Customer service people who are trained in processes often delight in not-helping customers when they confident they are correctly following the process.
This is particularly infuriating to customers who want to be made to feel like someone at your company caresÂ about theÂ suffering you are inflicting.
- Training people on the right triggers to throw out the process
- Then have them ask âWhat do you think we should do to make this better for you?â
- And give them the ability to act.
Involve your customer service people in creating great service.
In the BMW example I would have each dealership manage a contest for their service team to get together and come up with three new ideas for how to provide outstanding service.Â You could pay $1000 each for the best 10 ideas.
Instead of putting $10k into a survey, where you have sales and service people training the customers to give the right answers, which are of no real use to you anyway, you could be motivating Actual Service!!
The existence of the contest alone would inspire thinking about service, and you get much better ideas when you involve the people who actually do the work in coming up with the best way to improve it.
Getting it Right
Look at what you measure and then look at the dark side of it.?If you were going to game the measures to come out looking good what would you do??What non-intended result would occur? Â Because it willâ¦
People like to make customers happy.Â Let them.
At the very least, if you are not serious about providing actual service, donât torture your customers with surveys and processes that only annoy them, and give you a false sense of your greatness.
What do you think?
How have you seen customers get service really right or really wrong? Share your stories in the comment box below!
Patty Azzarello is an executive, author, speaker and CEO-advior. She works with executives where leadership and business challenges meet. Patty has held leadership roles in General Management, Marketing, Software Product Development and Sales, and has been successful in running large and small businesses. She writes at Patty Azzarello’s Business Leadership Blog. You’ll find her on Twitter as @PattyAzzarello