The other day, Jim Keenan and I were chatting about a number of things (mostly my envy of his upcoming ski vacation at “Bump School.”) We started talking about productivity tools—some that each of us were using and some errors we see customers making. After our conversation, I started reflecting on the unintended consequences of many of our efficiency initiatives.
Before I go further, let me be clear, I think effectiveness and efficiency are critical. Our efficiency initiatives must complement and reinforce our effectiveness initiatives—and that’s often where things start going a little crazy. Too often, it seems our strives for efficiency have adverse impacts on the customer experience. Rather than helping us engage customers more effectively and impactfully–they put the customer off and create a distance. As unintended “victims” of our push to be efficient, customers feel they’ve lost the connection, the relationship has become less important, they are just another cog in the machinery to process customer transactions quickly and cheaply.
The examples are around us daily–unfortunately, too often, all of us succumb–perhaps accidentally–to these.
Take, for example, predictive dialing and similar technologies. They improve the abilities of inside sales people to call and reach someone. People using these systems will present all sorts of data about increases in connections and getting a human being on the line. But, like all of us, I sit on the other end of those calls. You know the one’s I’m talking about…..
The phone rings, I pick it up saying, “Hello, this is Dave Brock.” Then there’s that moment of silence, a barely perceptible click, and someone speaks, “Hello, may I please speak to Dave Brock?” The call usually doesn’t last longer, they’ve reached a real human being (In spite of claims to the contrary, I am human), but I am completely turned off. I don’t think a single one of the hundreds of those calls I receive have had a positive outcome for the caller.
Or there are the phone systems, when I’m in a buying mood and trying to get information, “If you are a current customer, press 1 on your keypad, if you are not a current customer press 2, if you don’t know press 0 or wait for 2 hours for an operator…….”
There are others all of us use in some way, things like autoresponders–implemented too poorly or too frequently, robotically executed scripts, transfers from one person to the other. I could go on.
Efficiency is important. We are all busy, we all have to find ways to leverage our time and improve our productivity. But it’s important to look at every efficiency initiative from the customer experience point of view. If we are more efficient, but are driving customers and prospects away, then what is it we are really achieving?