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Tag: customer service

Supply networks, co-creation, open technology made simple

Suppliers rule!

In the later days in Zimbabwe, I would walk into the Greek Bakery (hey, it was called that) and say, “What’s for breakfast?”.   Whatever they had, I ate – happily.  Samosa and salad.  That’s OK.  Coffee machine working?  OK, tea is fine.

Restaurant at Art Village not the Greek BakeryI developed an appreciation of the best deal on offer and the loyalty of traders who give me the best deal they can.

What can you do for me?

It was little different in New Zealand.  I taught a massive class of 800 students, and then some.  And they all worked.  Supermarket, department store, restaurant – the people serving me were students and quite likely my students.

That’s great, isn’t it, though the university had strict rules about accepting favors.

A hop-and-a-step in my thinking told me something else. They were students – smart, obliging, but totally unqualified for what they were doing. They were hired because they were cheap and because the managers thought raw enthusiasm was a sufficient substitute for sound training.

Well, how hard is it to say “Would you like fries with that?”

But it is hard to keep  raw enthusiasm done and I soon learned to wave away the menu and decline to “look around”.  I went back to my Zimbabwean ways.

Waste no time on over-specified supply chains

I wasted no time on the loss leaders and dramatic deals that might have caught my eye but were essentially scammy.

I wasted no time specifying solutions that the enterprise ‘should’ have delivered but wasn’t going to because the staff weren’t trained and would probably have no idea what I was talking about.

I simply asked what they could do for me.

Co-creation

And so my style of co-creation was formed and practiced.

  • This is what I need done and what I can pay for.
  • What solutions can you provide?

Supply networks working fabulously

I got good service.  Happy service.  The raw enthusiasm worked fabulously.  I got what was available and what staff could deliver and it was often better than I had looked for in the first place.

This is the essence of supply networks of the 21st century.  The customer is not king (or queen).   The customer contributes a need and a readiness to pay.

All the players in the supply network scratch their heads and say “ You know what?  We could .   .  . “

By staying in the range of what we can do, we do better.

  • First who, then what.
  • Whoever comes are the right people. What we decide is the only thing that we could have decided.
  • And when it is over, it is over.

Supply networks, co-creation, open technology – tiz all the same.

And it works in scarcity and abundance by being reasonable and collegial.

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Young people giving awful service

Little dogs who want to play ball

Over the weekend, I threw the ball for a friend’s dog   .   .  . I threw two balls for two dogs – one many times and one once.

We threw the first ball for the cooperative dog and then a second for the other dog.   He picked up the ball, raced around and refused to give it back.  He wants to play ball but can’t grasp the essential idea.

The other dog had fun.  We threw the ball. She fetched it and brought it back.  And so it went on until we were tired.  Then we took her ball away and waited patiently for the old boy to realize the game is over and to drop his too.

That’s how we dealt with the old dog.  We’ve stopped trying to teach him to play ball.  We just gave him a spare one and let him think he was part of the game.

Life is great when you have a great supply chain

In real life, are we so patient?

I used to say that we need a magic list of essential people : our plumber, our electrician, our mechanic, our hairdresser.  There are usually about 10 people who we depend upon more than we realize.  We can probably survive one of them being unreliable.  If more than one is unreliable, life becomes a hassle.

Web 2.0 is full of inexperienced suppliers

With web2.0, we have many conversations with many people and we interact with people who have no idea of what the people they serve want.  They seem blissfully unaware of their own narcissism and muddle.  Indeed they seem to regard their own narcissism as social status.  Some even take the view that they click away from services that they don’t like and you should too.

They think they are the energetic little dog racing around.  Actually they are the old fellow who won’t give back the ball.  Sadly, they are going to play alone.

How do we help a youngster who isn’t up to the to-and-fro of Web2.0?

All my instincts are to help a young person.  I feel bad at giving them a ball and letting them waste their time.   The trouble is that if they are engrossed in their narcissism, there is not a lot we can do.

How do they learn to answer the questions that the customer is trying to ask?  When do they learn that we aren’t interested in the answers they know?  When do they have the epiphany and realize we aren’t even interested in the answers to the questions we ask?

We want the answer to the question we are trying to ask.  As experts in their field (or so they claim), they need to educate us.

When we throw them the ball, they must bring it back so we can throw it to them again.  They must help us play our part in their game.  We won’t have a game without some effort on their part.  Pretending to play doesn’t quite do it.

Our moral obligation to the young

Of course, when I am their supplier, and I include being a boss or teacher in the category of supplier, it is my job to understand the question they are trying to ask.  It is fatal to answer the one asked because in their inexperience they may have left out a detail essential to understanding the situation.

When someone has a question, it is my job to ask more questions to understand their situation.  It is through my questions, that they learn what to look for and an orderly way to approach the same issue in the future.

Indeed, once I have highlighted the important features of the situation, it is very likely, they will be see the way forward themselves.  Even if they are still overwhelmed, they will implement more confidently knowing what salient features they should be observing and knowing that I am there for them.

The foolishness of putting young people on the front line

Why oh why do we put inexperienced people on to dealing with the public?  It is so daft.

I suppose I cannot give up on them.  It is immoral to give up on the young. But they cannot be my preferred supplier either.

Preferred suppliers answer the questions I should ask

My essential suppliers must know their business.  And that means knowing the questions I need to ask.

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HR is Everywhere! Five positive principles of designing those systems we love to hate

Adam Greenfield, author of Everywhere and new Head of Design at Nokia, brought the recent Royal Society meeting on Ubiquitous Computing to a crescendo on Tuesday with a clean, TED style, run through on the pervasive nature of contemporary computers and five principles of design. These are taken from my notes (apologies Adam). As Adam spoke I was trying to relate them to soft systems as well, say HR systems.

Once I got back home, I tried to phrase them positively.

1. At the end of the day, will my client, or my employee regard themselves as better off? And am I willing to be accountable for my impact on them?

2. Am I willing to discuss fully with my client or my employee or a knowledgeable person they select, what we are going to do and what might be the consequences?

3. Does my suggestion honor my client or my employee and bring them esteem and status in the minds of people important to them?

4. Am I aware of the time constraints and rhythms important to my clients and employees and have I entered the rhythm of their activity in a way that is pleasing to them?

5. Is my client and employee in effective control of the process and do they feel that? Are they able to terminate at any time freely and without collateral damage?

Why do we find this so hard to do? I have been following a discussion that the Chief Happiness Officer started on customer service. Why do customer service people hate their customers so much? Quite likely because they have not benefited from these design principles and feel disrespected themselves. Until we, the people who design HR and management systems convey genuine respect towards them, they are not likely to feel well and happy themselves

So while customer service people protest their innocence on CHO, what is our best defence?  Have you designed systems which violated these principles?  Have you had success stories which surprised even you?

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