In my last blog I suggested that doing can be better than analysing. Advertising guru Bill Bernbach put it succinctly:Vaclav Havel quote
“Logic and over-analysis can immobilize and sterilize an idea. It’s like love – the more you analyse it the faster it disappears.”
Over the past decade technology has transformed the ability of companies to gather feedback from their customers. Research agencies used to deliver focus groups (of 6 to 8 people), consumer panels (of hundreds) and Usage and Attitude or Omnibus surveys (with a couple of thousand respondents). Now there are real-time post-transactional surveys via IVR, SMS email or web which can gather feedback from tens of thousands of customers in a single month. Once research teams spent weeks to analyse data, more weeks to devise strategies and months to implement solutions. Now insight and operational teams are being asked to extract insight and implement improvement programmes in weeks; and front-line staff are able to trigger customer recovery programmes within minutes of feedback being left. The landscape has shifted irrevocably.
Nate Silver, the pundit who accurately predicted the results of every single state in the 2012 US election, describes in his book ‘The signal and the noise’ the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day from which we can make predictions. (The signal is the truth. The noise is what distracts us from the truth). But even with all this volume of data he believes: “We can never make perfectly objective predictions. They will always be tainted by our subjective point of view.” So no matter how carefully data is analysed and KPIs correlated our ability to accurately predict the impact on customer behaviour of changes to a service model will always be subject to our own hopes and expectations.
It’s also true that what one customer sees as excellent service another could see as merely average. Even the same customer will react differently depending on which side of bed they got out of that morning. The same is true of your employees. This means that theoretical models of the impact of customer service changes on customer experience feedback can only ever be theoretical. You only really find out what’s going to happen when you press the ‘go’ button. No matter how much you analyse data, no matter how elaborate your statistical correlations and regression analyses remember that customers are not machines to be manipulated by twiddling a series of service input dials. Service is still primarily an exchange between two humans (even when the human is automated as an IVR solution) and is subject to the foibles of human interaction.
You make your employees better at delivering service by giving them a framework of guidelines within which they can build a relationship on their own terms (rather than following a script); by letting them learn on the job; by doing rather than discussing what to do. You make your customers happier by treating them as individuals rather than types; by tailoring service to their needs; and by delivering a brilliant customer experience rather than hypothesizing what makes it so.
In my next blog I’ll be looking at the crucial role that a shared vision plays in helping an organisation implement first class customer service. If you missed the first two blogs and this has piqued your interest you can catch up here.
As always if you have any thoughts or comments I’d be only too pleased to hear from you.