Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Complication Causes Complaints

My “unofficial mentor”, Michael Heppell, has just produced another brilliant view on why customer service is not always what we may expect.  To see the full review, click here.

Michael makes a very valid point: in our efforts to ensure our processes support the business, we risk losing sight of the fact that they don’t support the customer.  

We invent and adjust processes for any number of reasons:
  • They don’t exist;
  • They’re out of date;
  • We think it’ll be “better this way”;
  • To impress the boss…

What I only recently realised, thanks to the Temkin Group, is that before we change or add anything to a process that involves customers, we need to view it first and foremost from the point of view of whether it makes theirexperience better.  

The aviation industry looks at causes of errors using the “SHEL” framework where “SHEL” stands for:

Software
Hardware
Environment
Life/Liveware

To help understand better, think of things this way:

“Software”means computer software, manuals, procedures;

“Hardware”means tools, vehicles, PCs – anything the organisation supplies to staff to do their job.

“Environment”means the organisation itself, how t does things, its “culture”

“Liveware”means staff, clients, third party contractors – the “people factor”

Problems usually arise where there’s a disconnect between humans (“Liveware”), usually involving either a “Contributing Factor” or “Performance Inducing Factor” and the software, hardware or environmental elements of SHEL. These than result in an “event” (what we don’t want to happen, or the exact oppositeof what we intended or expected to happen) and consequences (customer complaint, loss of business…).

Often, the best way of making sure our processes do what we want is to keep them simple.  The more steps we introduce, the higher the chance that one of them won’t be carried out.  The more the number of functions or teams involved with a customer interaction, the higher the chance that something will go wrong.  

Are we trying “too hard” to please our customers?


I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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