Customer service is full of known unknowns and unknown unknowns.

While there are specific parameters bounding the space that the majority of complaints and problems will fall into there is always a percentage that will be outside them.

In that situation corporate processes kick in. The complaint is ascribed a case number. It is then kicked off to the team that’s supposed to deal with the technicalities it presents. That team, of course, has a real job dealing with more pressing matters. Complaints kicked off to it are not as pressing as the core of its work which is what the team gets assessed on.

In the meantime the customer service person has done what they were supposed to do and is back to dealing with more regular complaints. The person above them is happy that a difficult problem has been dealt with and passed on and the team can get back to being ‘productive’.

Everyone’s happy except the customers who have a serious problem that’s not routine.

Here’s the thing. Non-routine problems are symptoms of deeper failings. The ones that go unaddressed because no one is assigned to look for them. By creating compartmentalized processes companies achieve efficiency and standardization but fail at personalization and care. Not just to their customers. To themselves too.

When everyone’s just ticking boxes and calling it work it is only a matter of time before the next social media crisis strikes, the next corporate scandal breaks out, the next breakdown in the internal supply chain happens, the next internal miscommunication takes place.

When there are unknowns that cannot be followed through and dealt with properly it’s a sign that no one cares while everyone appears to be doing their job.

The recipe for disaster is then set.

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The world is changing. Not overnight and not all at once, but it is changing nevertheless. In my talks to corporate groups, CEOs, VPs and industry leaders I gleam insights of how this change is happening. What evidence exists. Why some things happen and not others and how we can best take advantage of it all to do better. In Observations I catalogue it all. Brief, to the point and open to discussion.