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When the drive for efficiency kills customer service

Everyone likes receiving great customer service however often we don’t notice good customer service when we receive it.  What we do notice, is when we experience service levels below our expectations.

As accountants and advisors we work with clients to drive efficiencies and cost savings to improve an organisations performance.  A good rule of thumb is any efficiencies or cost saving activities should always be compared against the business strategy.

One of our advisors experienced something recently that inspired this article - He accepted a connection request on LinkedIn.  Following the acceptance he received a message suggesting they catch up as there were ways they may be able to help him.  Looking at their profile our Adviser was interested in at least hearing what they had to say, so responded with, “Sounds good, I have some time on Thursday afternoon”.  The reply that followed was what surprised him the most, “Let’s get acquainted first – it would have to be late in the day on Thursday as I am in back to back meetings for most of the day.  Feel free to book in a 15min spot directly into my online calendar (link to it was included)”.

Now, there were benefits of our adviser doing this as it stops the back and forth emails etc of arranging a time to connect.  However, this person is obviously trying to sell a service and the first interaction with them was to go into their diary and book a meeting with them.  The big red flag with this ‘efficient booking system’ is it gives the impression they are too busy to make time for their prospective new customer.  In a nutshell, our adviser had to do the work to arrange a time to be sold to.  If this is the way that they deal with a prospective new customer, you could only imagine how they treat their existing or long-term customers.

There are numerous examples of efficiencies -v- lack customer service experience around, some of them you may think are good and some you may agree are bad.  A few that come to mind are:

  • Supermarket self-service checkouts
  • Banks rationalisation of branches and ATMs
  • Banks removing human tellers in branches
  • Scripted overseas call centres for technical support from Telcos/Pay TV/Internet providers
  • Call centre voice activated menu systems
  • Airlines with online or kiosk check-in when you still have to wait in line to drop your check in bags

The next time that you are thinking about driving efficiency or cost cutting think about the value proposition that you offer and the overall strategy of your business.  Evaluate how any changes you intend to make will impact on your ability to deliver on your value proposition and assess if the outcome aligns with your business strategy.

Hanrick Curran has over 30 years’ experience working with business owners to identify and align day to day business activities with an overall business strategy. For a detailed overview of business improvement and strategy alignment read our Business Improvement Blog series below.

If you would like assistance establishing, reviewing or re-aligning your business strategy contact your usual Hanrick Curran advisor on 07 3218 3900.

Please note that this publication is intended to provide a general summary and should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal advice.