What if Service Processes Were Customer-Controlled?

When I was in high school, I sang in the high school glee club.  One song I recall was called, “My Grandfather’s Clock.”  Written by Henry Clay Work in 1876, the most dramatic lyrics of the song were found in the second verse,

“It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born

And was always his treasure and pride

But it stopped, short never to go again

When the old man died”

It is popular to talk about being customer-focused or customer-centric.  But, what if service processes could be customer-controlled.  Like the motion-detected light that turns on when you enter a room, such processes could be started and stopped by customers.

drivethroughI was inside a fast-food restaurant and standing near the drive-in window waiting on my order.  A man pulled up to get is drive-in order and the employee at the window announced that his order would take longer than normal…and would he mind pulling up to a parking space on the side, and someone would bring his order out to him when it was ready.

“No, ma’am,” he told her bluntly.  “I am going to sit right here and hold up your getting money from all the people behind me.  If I pull over and park, you never will have an economic reason to increase your staffing so you could serve everyone on time.  This is a fast-food restaurant.”  He sat there.  And, I watched the staff hustle to get his order ready so the drive-in cash register could start ringing again.  He completely controlled the process by his protest.

No business owner enjoys the thought of customers taking over the organization’s service processes.  So, the takeaway is this:  Never let customers have a reason to want to highjack your process and make it stop when customer satisfaction stops.

Photo Credit: Flickr via Amanda Graham

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Dr. Chip R. Bell is a world-renowned authority on customer loyalty and innovative service. Global Gurus ranked him in 2018 the #2 keynote speaker in the world on customer service; #1 in North America. He also is the author of numerous national and international best-selling books including Take Their Breath Away, Managing Knock Your Socks off Service, Magnetic Service, The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service and Customers as Partners. His books have been translated into over a dozen languages.

His newest customer service book is the award-winning, best-selling book Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles.

Dr. Bell has appeared live on CNBC, Bloomberg TV, CNN, Fox Business, ABC, CBS, NPR Marketplace and his work has been featured in Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, and Fast Company.


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