Who is responsible for great customer service?

ID-10087507I’ve just witnessed a frankly stunning display of how technology, designed to improve customer experience can, in the wrong hands, have the reverse effect. My local dentist has installed a touch screen appointment log-in system – you’ve no doubt come across them; touch a few buttons on-screen and it confirms you are in the right place at the right time. Simple. In this case though something obviously went wrong. I overheard a customer asking the receptionist when the dentist was likely to see him (he had already been waiting for half an hour), only to be told that he had not logged in correctly.

Strangely the receptionist felt that this was a sufficient explanation. The other patients, myself included, did our best to hide the relief that it hadn’t happened to us! I didn’t hear the end of the exchange; suffice to say the guy was still in the waiting room when I left after my appointment though.

So who is to blame? The product developers for inventing something that may solve one problem but also creates a series of other issues, the sales  person who sold the system inappropriately ( the surgery probably doesn’t need that level of sophistication), the receptionist who handled the human interaction so badly, or the marketer that forgot to think about the customer and allowed the technology to take centre stage? One thing is certain, it’s not the customers fault!

It’s easy to see how this kind of situation could arise in a big corporate environment where communication between  armies of product developers, marketers, sales people and front line staff  may not be perfect. But how can it happen in a small provincial dental surgery? How could they have lost sight of the customer so completely?

Great customer service is a team effort and everyone, from marketing through front line staff, should be aware that they have a part to play. Put your customers  at the centre of your business decisions and you have a much better chance of delivering consistently good service.

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