At the weekend I did the weekly shop at a major retailer and also dropped into a major hardware store to purchase some padlocks. What struck me was the different view of customer service.
Whilst at the supermarket queuing to pay for my purchases a number of tills were starting to get a backlog of people queuing. Rather than let us all just wait managers opened up other tills and manned them and a message came over the tannoy for all staff who could operate a till to go to the till. I quickly moved to an empty till, paid and was on my way.
The organisation was flexible to the situation and demands of the customer.
Contrast this to my experience at a major hardware store. Big queues building up, lots of staff just seeming to walk around and no real sense of thinking out of the box and opening up some empty tills to help reduce the queues. I eventually got fed up put my potential purchases down, left and went to another rival store and purchased my padlocks there.
Now I may say that I am not loyal. However psychologically I probably am. I will remember the experiences above and will probably return to the same supermarket and go to the rival hardware store.
Customer service is important and sometimes it is the little things that matter. Being flexible to adapt to the situation and provide a service that benefits everyone with little effort.
It made me think of the relationship and service of IT organisations to their customers. There must be an IT training course that teaches the so often heard responses to customers and requests of
- It's a bit difficult.....
- It doesn't work like that...
- We don't work like that and can't meet that timescales / cost
- Before we can start we will need a, b, c, d, e, f, g,......x, y, z all signed in triplicate
In IT we talk about agile development to develop code faster and more closely aligned to what a customer wants. We need to extend that to the IT organisation as a whole. We also talk about agile processes and procedures that can adapt, change and flex as the demand from customers adapts, changes and flexes.
If we don't, then as I did, they will go to a competitor. If an IT organisation wishes to be truly part of a business and not a supplier of services then they need to look at the customer service they provide. Not just in terms of costs and schedule but also in terms of flexibility and agility of delivery.
Customer Service perfection is a great goal to achieve. But remember perfection is a journey not a destination and you need to be able to take different roads on that journey.