February 22nd, 2013

There’s a saying in life that I’ve taken quite a shine to over the years… “the path of the least resistance”.  Of course, that’s not to suggest I’m in any way lazy; but when it comes to getting from A to C, I always prefer to go via B rather than meander past X, Y and Z.
So when my electricity meter died last week, my immediate thought was getting it fixed quickly and with minimal inconvenience.
Foolishly, I turned to the telephone as my first port of call… and was greeted by an automated greeting breaking the news of an extensive wait time ahead.   Acknowledging the fact that I needed my electricity supply back in action some time before the tennis started at Wimbledon, I hung up and reviewed my options.  Feel free to picture me adorned in scientist goggles, armed with a felt tip pen and performing complex equations on a white board.  Alas, the truth was rather more sedate and simply involved me popping online to the supplier’s website.
It was at that point I noticed they had a “chat with an operator” option.  Aha, I thought… the universe has presented to me my path of least resistance!  Indeed, within 5 minutes, I’d explained my problem and secured an engineer visit for a specified time later that afternoon.  By the end of the day, my electricity was back on and the problem was solved – all after, a quick 5 minutes of painless interaction.
This episode led me to think about my own experiences as a service provider.  Even though we may be desperately passionate about providing an exemplary customer service, it can be all too easy to get caught up with organising the bunting and fireworks, while we forget to bake the birthday cake… and it’s often this well intentioned meander from our core business driver that leads us away from being “path of the least resistance” for our customers.
From previous experience with the company above, their customer telephone service is actually second to none.  While we will all agree that this is a fantastic attribute… the truth is that they’d overlooked the core fact that their customers couldn’t actually get through to their call handlers in order to receive this fantastic service.
Their saving grace was, of course, that they did provide that path of the least resistance; albeit via alternative means.
So my question for you today is this: does your service delivery present a ‘path of least resistance’ for your customers… or is it the service delivery equivalent of a mystery bus tour; taking your customers from London to Norwich, via Anglesey?


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Marianne Page

Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)


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