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“Simplifying The Way We Work,” But What About The Customer?

by David Brock on December 24th, 2014

I caught a small article flashing across my news feeds, “Coca-Cola Disconnects Voicemail At Headquarters.”  I’m not a big fan of voicemail, those I receive are translated into texts and sent to my mobile and email.  So this post is not about voicemail.

The thing that struck me in the article the reasoning behind this.  The article cited an internal memo from the CIO, the change was not done for cost savings, but rather “’to simplify the way we work and increase productivity.’  Callers, upon not reaching the person they are trying to reach are told to try later or find an alternative method.”

So all this leaves me wondering, “What about the customer?”

Coca-Cola employees probably already know and are trained in the alternative methods of reaching each other, perhaps with email, or the many  types of internal messaging systems, so they have no problems, but what about customers?

How is a customer to figure it out?  How do they get to the person they want?  What does it do to their own work flow and productivity?

Coca-Cola is not alone in the way they design their workflow and processes.  In fact they are probably smack in the middle of the way most companies design them—to optimize their own work flow and productivity.  So organizations focus on how to make it easier and more efficient for them.

But what about the customer?

Well it actually becomes pretty easy for the customer as well.  The more organizations focus on their own internal efficiency, forgetting about the customer, making it more difficult for them to reach the people they want, the easier it makes it for the customer, as well.

See the customer when faced with obstacles will simply go some place else.

Customers will shift their spending to organizations that focus on the customer experiences they want and expect.

All organizations constantly face the need to simplify their processes, workflow and costs.  But in doing so, they can’t focus solely on their own internal operations.  They have to think about the impact on their customers, suppliers, and those outside the company who need to be engaged.  No organization, no part of an organization exists in isolation.  There are people who serve the organization (e.g. suppliers) and people who the organization serves (e.g. customers–and everyone has customers).

Changes to our processes without considering the impact on these communities, ultimately hurt the organization itself.  If customers can’t conveniently reach people in the organization, they will vote with their wallets, going some place that focuses on customer experience.  Even suppliers and other external people need to be considered, if they can’t get through, where does the organization get critical information to improve its ability to achieve its goals.

As a final side note to this article, it’s disappointing the article was about “voicemail,” when it should have really been an examination of customer experience.

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  1. Dave, do you think many organizations are trapped in the misconception that bottom-line-centric improves customer centricity and that price trumps service? Perhaps imitating airlines charging for add-ons is the next step, “If you would like to speak with Ms. Smith now you will be billed $10.”

    • Gary, I think people just don’t think about, “How does this impact our customers, is it consistent with the experience we want them to have?” For many of them the customer is distant, faceless, and amorphous. They are doing their jobs as best possible, and don’t think of the customer until they do something that provokes a great negative reaction.

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