January is dieting month. Those holiday parties and giant, pull-out-all-the stops meals can add unwanted pounds. Who could pass up trying that casserole? As good as the eggnog and fruit cake were, you could not escape their propensity for turning seconds of palette pleasure into months of waist line excess.
“Get liposuction!” someone advised our friend, George, at last year’s holiday gathering. But, there was George at this year’s party with the same over-the-belt bulge. “What happened to your weight loss, George?” we queried him. George had tried every diet in the world and had been proud of his new figure right after his mid-section vacuuming.
“Liposuction was a short cut; but it only lasted me a few months,” he reported. “I have finally come to realize that the discipline of eating right and exercise regularly is the only real way to lose the pounds for good.”
Customer service can be a lot like George’s struggle with coping with a scrumptious but unhealthy culinary thrill. Self-service can be service liposuction—removing necessary human interaction solely to cut costs. “Some assembly required” can be a signal of service liposuction in the works. Excess customer wait time can be the byproduct of someone’s shortcut to expense control. Count the number of phone numbers you have to push to finally get to someone who can help you. If you are past two or three, you are definitely the victim of a shortcut that adds unpleasant effort to the service experience.
Customers value organizations that pursue efficiency and pursue novel ways to lower service costs. Lowered costs, while clearly improving the attractiveness of a company’s bottom line (don’t go there!), can be passed on to the customer as a lower price. Southwest Airlines runs a perpetually profitable, low-cost carrier through an efficient operation. But, their renowned service experience is the result of discipline and hard work, not the byproduct of shortcuts that leave customers feeling their treatment was stingy and their experience hollow. Beware of shortcuts that skimp on your customer’s experience for it is the source of their memories about you and what they tell others about your attitude toward their service health.