“Customer-In” Design – Best Achieved by Front-line Workers

Designing service organizations can be tricky business.  Peter Scholtes – in The Leader’s Handbook – was the first to tell us to design our organizations as a system, customer-in.  He referenced that a “product-out” mentality “is at best tactful arrogance.”  We can say that the same applies to service-out thinking too.

Front-line workers can offer any service organization insight into what is wrong with their design of service in real-time.  This move can save you big money in not having to do surveys.  Anyone interacting with a customer should know by the end of the service if the organization is performing or not.

The barrier to getting feedback for many service organizations from front-line employees are reward systems, performance appraisals and the like.  It is the false belief that good performance is derived from the individual and not the system.

Performance is not down to the individual and not to use the worker to help design the system is to miss out on a customer-in design.  Ultimately, the worker will have to use the design to deliver the service.  Why wouldn’t a service company want to use the worker to help build the design and refine it?

A good service design will involve the front-line workers in designing “customer-in.”

Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect.  His organization helps executives find a better way to link perspective to performance and use workers to build and refine your service.  Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for CustomermanagementIQ.com. Reach him on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn atwww.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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