The Service Puzzle

Puzzles are fun…especially, on a rainy day when there’s no ballgame on television.  Puzzles can be a great bonding experience for families.  Putting a puzzle together has a lot of similarities with creating a great customer experience.

Putting a puzzle together begins by looking at the picture on the front of the puzzle box.  Great service begins with a clear picture of what the experience should be like consistently across all units.  Consistency gives customers trust and confidence.  Service at branch A should be like branch B; customers should not be forced to pick a service person because one is known to be great; others not so great.

Puzzles require all the pieces.  The biggest irritant to a puzzle enthusiast is a missing puzzle piece.  The same is true for great service.  Great front line service people are only as good as the tools, supports, and authority provided them.  Friendly, but incompetent or fast, but inaccurate or attractive, but incomplete all represent missing pieces.  Customers expect a reliable whole.

Puzzle construction takes all the pieces face up on the table.  The same is true with great service.  Every person in the organization must have line-of-sight with the customer.  That means every employee, regardless of their behind the scenes role, must be clear on how their work impacts the ultimate customer.  Great external service is dependent on great internal service.

Puzzle assembly takes a plan.  Whether you “start on a corner” or “put together the border first,” the speed and efficiency of puzzle completion requires a method of operation.  Great service requires processes and practices crafted from the customer’s perspective.  Today’s customers have a low tolerance for effort.  They want service delivery that is easy and comfortable.

Puzzle completion requires a stable surface.  A rickety table only frustrates a puzzle person.  Similarly, a great service experience works because the core offering (what the customer came to you for in the first place) is effective and as expected.  Service with a cherry on top will not be valued if what is under the cherry is inferior or disappointing.

What steps can you take to put your service puzzle together?

About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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