I had the pleasure of reading an article that a client passed along to me.  It was most insightful and had much to say about how to change your organization in order to improve customer service.  I want to share it but first, a bit about the article.  It is entitled the “Connected Company” and comes from a book of the same name by Dave Gray.

The author draws a helpful distinction between a machine and a company.  Most machines are designed to not be adaptable to the environment (except perhaps a few sophisticated robots).  However, companies must be adaptive and able to change and adjust to the ever-changing environment.  One of the examples he used to illustrate the distinction between machine and company is the automotive industry.  Managers want to run the industry like a machine, which explains why they are sometimes too slow in responding to consumer demand and desires for different products (they are improving though).  Demand may be changing but they too often fail to adjust manufacturing levels until too late.  The signals that would tell them to change are ignored or fail to reach them through their dealer network.

He goes on to talk about the “Law of Requisite Variety,” which states that any control system must be capable of more variety than the system it is trying to control.  How does this apply to customer service?  We notice many companies trying to create processes to solve most any conceivable customer service problem.  They are fighting a losing battle!  There is too much variety.  This is where it is essential to have front line people with the skills, knowledge and willingness to handle this variety in creative and profitable ways.  In the words of the author, “the more idiot proof you make the system, the more people will act like idiots.”

Well worth reading especially if improving customer service is on your agenda this year.

Lynn Daniel

Be sure to check us out at www.thedanielgroup.com.  Find out how we can help you measure, manage, and improve customer service.

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