Whack-a-Mole is hilariously fun at first, yet it quickly becomes tedious and repetitive. Just imagine having to play it for a living. If you manage a customer facing team or function, that’s what you may feel you’re doing when dealing with customer service issues. You run from one problem to the next, stopping just long enough to apologize or extend a goodwill credit before dashing to the next fire.
If you’d like to stop playing customer service whack-a-mole, consider using “continuous improvement,” a management method made common by Toyota and other manufacturing companies to help identify, fix, and prevent production errors. Continuous improvement works on customer issues, too.
I cannot say if customer service is, in general, improving or getting worse. The American Customer Satisfaction Index suggests that customer service improved until mid-2014 but has been trending downward since. It is probably growing in some industries and not in others. Personally, I am occasionally impressed with the service, but the service I receive is “adequate.” I give talks frequently, and I often start the presentation by asking who can recall a positively memorable service experience in the last few months. Typically, I will see a smattering of raised hands. If asked about unsatisfactory service experiences, the number of hands raised is usually far larger. Is Customer expectation changing or is consistency slipping?
I had the good fortune to speak at the annual MHEDA (Material Handling Equipment Dealers Association) Convention earlier this week. I want to share a few observations and things I learned: