Tag Archives: service design

Connect the Dots Thinking

English: self created, no copyrights(PD עברית:...

English: self created, no copyrights(PD עברית: יצירה עצמית, ברשות הכלל (ללא זכויות יוצרים) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a child, I remember spending hours working connect the dots work books.  The simple act of drawing the line between numbered dots wasn’t the prize, but the picture was.  It aided my education in learning numbers.  And because I couldn’t draw very well the payoff was huge – I still can draw little other than stick people.  I eventually advanced to paint by numbers – although painting between the lines was a challenge.

However, what is interesting is when I speak with organizations of all kinds . . . they still want the connect the dots thinking.  These are college-educated men and women!  Quick answers are needed for their problems and short-cuts, check-lists and Cliff notes are acceptable

This rarely ends well.

Look at what business has become . . . connect the dots everywhere with projects and project management – or what I like to call formal, scheduled connect the dots complete with schedules and a linear mindset.  The pieces must fit together!

Funny, when you view organizations as systems you realize that the organization is more (or should be more) than the sum of its parts.  We have all been tricked into thinking otherwise – its like the child within use revisits those workbooks.  “Give me an easy answer.”  All these “easy” answers lead to unintended consequences by adding complexity to the organization.

I don’t see an end to the madness soon.  Especially in the US, where financially pressured organizations continue to seek out these types of solutions to satisfy WallStreet.  There are better ways, but they will require a bit more than what we learned in elementary school.

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.Enhanced by Zemanta
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Best Buy Scripts – This Will Lose Workers . . . and Customers

From time to time, I visit the Consumerist website and find the occasional jewel.  A recent article – Some Best Buy Customer Service Reps Not Thrilled with Having to Stick to the Script – displays a contact center reps frustration at having to use scripts with customers.

Unfortunately, scripts have become the norm in contact centers.  Legalese and overzealous management and support folks are the culprits.  I don’t find too many reps asking to be scripted.  It is the Neo-Tayloristic mindset of controlling the reps and inspecting for compliance.

I doubt that the folks that implement such thinking have ever spoken with a customer using the script they write or they would understand the frustration.  This is the epitome of a inside-out and top-down perspective.  Using scripts is like texting and driving . . . your attention is on the script and not the customer.  Just as there are consequences for texting and driving so will there be consequences to organizations that unwisely use scripts.

Verifications (too) are a close relation to scripts.  I have seen many banks that have asked their reps to verify a customer as step one.  However, often the customer just wants to know bank hours or the latest interest rates.  When customers are asked to verify themselves – it seems silly . . . and it is.  Reps are forced to comply to pass the compliance and management muster.

Another form of scripting is the IVR menu.  Again, a poor source of absorbing the variety of customer demands.  With all the statistical data management has a hard time coming up with data on how many times are routed to the wrong function by wrong choice in the IVR shell game.  Worse, they lack data on whether customer was able to satisfy their demand or solve their problem.

Are scripts always damaging?  No, of course not.  When reps ask for them to help facilitate their work.  I rarely find this to be the case.  Usually, you have the management and support fascists dictating scripts.  Rarely, will you have ask for something that they know will make the person on the other end of the line uncomfortable or mystified.  No, these are uninformed dictates from the hierarchy.

Some organizations have 100s of scripts for reps to navigate with a fundamental belief that a good rep is a scripted rep.  But when customer demands start to pour in reps find that scripts don’t always fit the demand being placed on them.  There is script #44, #162 and a little of #217 that fits what the customer wants.  Then management wants to know why their AHT is so high.  Note: AHT is still a poor measure (except for planning) for improvement, but it does display how a focus on reducing costs increases them.

Instead of a brigade of the inspection regime to write and seek compliance to scripts – both costly measures – a better method would be to embrace the customer demand.  Embrace the demand by listening and satisfying it completely.  Few, if any, scripts are needed.  Costs go down and customer satisfaction up.  Counter-intuitive? . . . yes!  Crucial to service?  Absolutely.

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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“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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Deming’s Profound Changes – A Conversation

Frederick Winslow Taylor

Frederick Winslow Taylor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I sometimes reread certain books that have depth and knowledge associated with them.  Out of the Crisis, The New Economics,  The Deming Dimension and The Reckoning are those that I have revisited a number of times.  Another called, Deming’s Profound Changes was written by Ken Delavigne and Dan Robertson.

Deming’s Profound Changes outlines the American perspective on management.  This perspective is rooted in Scientific Management (aka Taylorism) developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor back in the early 1900s.  The authors do an excellent job of breaking down the elements of Scientific Management and describe what they call Neo-Taylorism or the “New Taylorism.”

An analysis of Taylorism leaves us with eight flaws (from Deming’s Profound Changes):

  1. Belief in management control as the essential precondition for increasing productivity.
  2. Belief in the possibility of optimal processes.
  3. A narrow view of process improvement.
  4. Low-level optimization instead of holistic, total-system improvement.
  5. Recognition of only one cause of defects: people.
  6. Separation of planning and doing.
  7. Failure to recognize systems and communities in the organization.
  8. View of workers as interchangeable, bionic machines.

The book goes on to describe how these flaws have continued to embed in themselves in the design of organizations.  This is done through a comparison of the Taylorism flaws as perpetuated in the New Taylorism.  The comparisons in the book leave you feeling that the US has absorbed the bad and entropy has taken over the rest of the American perspective.

I was fortunate enough to spend close to two hours speaking with one of the authors – Dan Robertson.  He shared with me that Perry Gluckman was the source of their (Ken Delavigne and Dan) inspiration to write Deming’s Profound Changes – interestingly the name of the slides Dr. Gluckman used. Dr. Gluckman was directly guided by Dr. Deming in learning his method.  Dan described his interactions with Dr. Gluckman as sometimes confusing, but that the careful guidance of Gluckman always allowed the learning to advance.

Dan Robertson is from Indiana (Clinton county), but lives outside the Bay area today.  He is traveling back to Indiana this week and I hope to have coffee with him in late June or early July to learn more about his experiences.

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

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