Tuesday, October 03, 2023

The Four Dimensions of Customer Service

 I considered calling this post, The Four Dimensions of Service Delivery. So keep that in mind as you read.

Way back in 2010, I had my designer create the "Can Do, Will Do" poster. The message is pretty straight forward.

1. The base of your success is determined by your processes. Everything else is built on that. This is a known, stable element.

Note that great, well-documented, well-implemented processes are the foundation for unlimited success. And, of course, sparse and poorly documented process that are not implemented are the foundation for nothing.

2. The capacity (the limit) of your company's success is defined by your ability to achieve specific goals or execute specific tasks. 

A great example of this is hiring employees who can do the job you assign to them. If your company lacks the ability to do something, you can solve this by hiring or training. But the good news is that you can always increase your capacity for success.

3. Ultimately, the volume of the triangle - the measure of your success - depends on the third side of the triangle: Willingness to do the job before you.

You, as an organization, may choose not to take on a job for a variety of reasons. Once you decide that you will do something, you need good processes and you need people who have the skills and abilities to be successful. But, most importantly, those people also need to be willing to do the job in front of them.

So . . . those are the first three dimensions of delivering good service. Good processes. Skills and ability. And willingness to execute.

But we also have to remember the fourth dimension: Time. Time brings the natural decay or entropy of all things. Unless you act.

I love the documentary series Life After People (see https://www.history.com/shows/life-after-people). It starts with the assumption that all human beings disappear. Then, each episode looks at what will happen to buildings, monuments, our greatest structures, and our everyday world.

The big lesson of that series is that water and air cause everything to decay. They examine what will happen after a day, a week, a month, a year, etc. It might take 10,000 years for something to decay altogether. But that is always the end result.

Your service delivery is very much the same.

Anything you ignore will begin to decay almost immediately. People you ignore will change in ways you don't see. Processes you ignore will decay. Skills you ignore will grow old. But it doesn't have to be that way!

You can create an alternative future! You can use time to your advantage. And the way you do this is already well known to you: Create a maintenance program! Examine your processes, your skill system (hiring and training), and your culture (the ultimate determinant of willingness). ALL of those things need to be maintained.

You know my motto: Nothing Happens by Itself! That includes the regular maintenance of your service delivery process. You need a system to maintain your documentation, your skills, and your culture. 

Unfortunately, you can't buy a service that relieves you of these tasks. You can buy tools to store your documentation and SOPs. But those tools cannot maintain and constantly improve you processes. They can't train your people. They can't keep your team together and focused on what's important. 

You have to do the maintenance. And there really are three kinds of maintenance: Processes, Can Do, and Will Do. And it's a lame excuse to say you don't have time. Think about your clients who don't have money to maintain their systems: They better have time to recover from a system failure or cyber attack. Your business either takes the time for service maintenance or you'll be taking time to rebuild after something goes wrong.

Feedback welcome.

ALSO: In case you're not a reader of my Monday newsletter, check out the article I wrote Monday on How Do Processes Disappear? 


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