Could increased inefficiency be good for your customers?

Forbes is the kind of business journal where a focus on efficiency is treated as so obvious that nobody needs to think that there might be an alternative strategy, so it was interesting to read Micah Solomon’s recent article on how it may be better for your customers to actually increase inefficiency.

What could he possibly be talking about? Well, what he is really talking about is looking beyond the conventional wisdom in your industry. Not just doing things the way that they have always been done. A good example might be the batching up of customer satisfaction surveys and analysing them just once a month. It’s the most efficient way of analysing feedback, but the best way would be to analyse feedback as it arrives.

Solomon also talking about hand-written thank you notes to customers and carrying stock that you rarely sell, just because it helps customers to know you always have every item in stock.

It was the economist JK Galbraith who coined the term ‘conventional wisdom’ when he was writing about how to make society a more equal place. He suggested that by always questioning and never making assumptions based on what we think is normal, interesting solutions can be found.

I tend to agree with what Solomon is suggesting. There are some very interesting areas of customer service that can be improved by not just accepting the conventional wisdom of what a customer expects, however I would also suggest that this a cultural attitude that needs to permeate all levels of the organisation – you cannot create rules that tell people ‘think differently.’

If your customer service team is given the autonomy they need to help customers and to explore new solutions when the standard ones don’t fit, then these innovations should naturally happen – the real challenge is then turning an innovative solution into the new conventional wisdom.

What do you think? Can you improve customer service by becoming less efficient? Leave a comment here or you can reach me on LinkedIn here.

Guardians of Efficiency

 

Photo by Mags Halliday licensed under Creative Commons

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