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Putting the Milk in the Front of the Store – An IT Service Philosophy

You are probably thinking what does milk have to do with IT service. As it happens, it has a lot to do with all areas of today’s service landscape, IT in particular. Inspired by the recently published book The Effortless Experience (by Matthew Dixon, et al) this topic really hits home in our industry today.

Our idea of great IT service is generally centered around how fast or how little time we as IT providers need in order to support our clients. In other words, we should be able to spend the least amount of time and money supporting our clients while simultaneously providing the highest level of customer satisfaction. But in true fact, this is not the case. The concept of Customer Effort Score or CES is disrupting all previous notions of great customer service.

Back to putting your milk in the front of the store. If you have ever been to a massive grocery store, you know where the milk is kept. It’s in the farthest corner of the store away from the entrance. Why? To get you to walk through the entire store in pursuit of your milk in hopes that you will pick up some other items as well. And, it just so happens that milk is one of the most frequently purchased items in a grocery store. However, stores have recently begun putting the milk in the front of the store recently. Why? So that the customer’s effort is low, and that makes people happy.

What about the IT service industry, what can be done that is disruptive and yet still lowers your customer’s effort? It starts with defining and implanting a mission and values that support the effort. You need to be committed to offering a smooth journey to your clients. Defining a higher level of quality in terms of the client experience. Having predictable processes and outcomes that hit the mark for the customer.

Specifically IT needs to focus on several simple areas to achieve a lower CES.

  • Self Service – Providing clients with high quality self serve sites that resolve client issues upon first attempt delivering a smooth journey.
  • Creating Clarity of Vision and Path – Clarity upfront to ensure that unnecessary client callbacks are minimized and everyone knows what needs to be done from the start.
  • Consistently Delivering High Quality Deliverables – Providing high quality results on predictable basis.
  • Efficiently Stewarding Customer Resources – Work to predict the next issue a customer may encounter to minimize unnecessary effort later.
  • Create a Smooth Journey – Create a consistent experience so the client knows what is expected and the interaction is predictable

What is the end result of taking this new perspective on the customer experience? Loyalty. It turns out the customers that experience effortless service are far more likely to become lifelong clients. So take a closer look at your current customer service processes and move your milk to the front of the store as soon as possible. Your customers will thank you.

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