You might also adapt this list to marketing - everything a business does is marketing at the end of the day. The forms you ask your customers to fill out, the minutes they wait in line, the dizzying phone recoding systems are all part of your company's brand.
Few organizations are starting to pay attention to those experiences and coming up with new solutions.
In mind of the innovator: taming the traps of traditional thinking, Matt May writes about the seven sins of solutions.
Traditional ways of thinking prevent us from divining the most accurate—and elegant—of solutions to any problem solving situation, he writes. How would those ideas play in customer service?
(1.) Shortcutting - making a beeline for the solution without first analyzing the root cause of the problem could lead you to drawing the wrong conclusions. Our brain is trained to jump to conclusions, to take shortcuts, and experience compounds that trait. However, it is also experience that teaches us that root cause analysis is helpful to know which questions you're answering.
Incidentally, when you start thinking about problems differently, you also come up with entirely new ways of doing things, which may lead to significant innovation in customer care.
(2.) Blind spots - these are part of our mental narrative, our assumptions given previous experience. We fill in to complete our existing mental patterns. If your part of the conversation is pre-filled, where does that leave the other party?
What assumptions do you have in approaching customer calls and customer service situations? How are these assumption preventing you from actually addressing the issue?
(3.) Not invented here - by nature, we don't trust other people's solutions. Period. See if you identify yourself with this situation. You have an idea that you think will save the company costs in the long run and will make customers really happy. You propose the idea and it falls flat.
Two months later, a consultant comes in to work with the top team and they come up with the very same idea... and this time it gets adopted, because it was the top group's idea and it took time and an investment with a third party to flesh it out.
(4.) Satisficing - this is a challenge of our times, there is no incubation period for ideas, we need to implement right away. In case you were wondering, satisfice is the combination of satisfy and suffice, a term economist and Nobel laureate Herbert a. Simon coined in his 1957 Models of Man to describe the typical human decision-making process by which we go with the first option that offers an acceptable payoff.
Is your customer service a base minimum requirement kind of activity? Are you asking the right questions or trying to provide the quickest answers?
(5.) Downgrading - this is the close cousin of the previous one, with a twist: a formal revision of the goal or situation. Here you twist and sift the facts to suit your solution. Or you provide a “revised estimate" that gets you off the hook from providing a real resolution.
When you downgrade the problem, you have the comfort of thinking that you can do that with the solution as well. That is rarely the case.
(6.) Complicating - our brains are wired to make things more complicated that they are. We add - cost and complexity - naturally and consistently. The first instinct when someone gives us a problem to solve is to start compounding it with information that leads us astray.
We hoard, store, collect, and accumulate behavior.
(7.) Stifling - this is the most unproductive and destructive of all sins. It can prevent someone from trying at all. In some organizations, most ideas are killed before they even get a chance to be shared. See if you've heard this before - this is not the way we do things here; that's never been done; customers won't go for that; we don't have time to do it.
The best one of all might be - we're going through a recession right now... Ba-bing, idea killed. What is your favorite way of killing ideas? How have your ideas been killed most frequently? Are you the number one person responsible for your ideas not getting done?
These are all ways to either openly say no, or to avoid thinking differently altogether. Today at Fast Company Expert blog we discuss how a slight change in thinking has allowed Intuit to put customers front and center by offering them a service that helps them stay current. In return, Intuit collects free tips and advice from a roster of tax specialists that help the company improve its products.
[image of 7 colors for 7 days by Davic]