Profiting At The Bottom Line™

This month’s focus: “That’s Just The Way It Is”

Every business has an “Achilles’s Heel” to customer satisfaction within a segment of your service structure that for all intents and purposes falls into a category of “That’s just the way it is.” An example would be: Customers hate to be put on-hold no matter the time length. There’s really not that much you can do to lessen it other than reducing the time. Besides – it’s the same everywhere. That’s just the way it is.

So a reduction from 20 minutes on-hold to 15 is seen as some vast improvement of 25%. A reduction to 9 is championed as “Less than half the wait of the competition!” All the while, for the customer – it’s still 9 minutes too long. However, what if you could turn the longer wait time into a benefit rather than a detraction? Inside, or outside the box thinking is a hindering process for this matter. Here is where “There is no box” thinking comes into play.

Case Study: Recently I had the joy of receiving my first Jury Duty summons. Like the vast preponderates of you, I too looked at the envelope and thought. “Oh dang!”  For there within its tri-folded envelope contained the two lines everyone dreads. First: How long you’ll need to serve or, be available. Second: Under threat of arrest, prosecution, and/or jail if you fail to show. There’s no way of getting around it, this letter falls into that special category of the select few most pray they’ll never receive. Then – you do. So how can something that’s viewed with such disdain ever be overcome? After all, the “customer experience” horror stories are legend. One would think if there was a better way it would have already been done. So the “inside/outside” the box thinking tries to make changes around the edges such as lessen the time needed or, make the request appear more friendly etc., etc. And when “customers” are still of the same mindset? The reaction to it is the old standby “That’s just the way it is.”

However, when you decide “there is no box.” Significant changes that improve the experience can be had. Even within something as mundane or depressing as jury duty.

During my tenure (which was two weeks) I can clearly state unequivocally all my assumptions, as well as presumptions were laid to waste after my first day. The Jury Commissioner along with help from others (i.e., Judges, and other department officials) made it clear they took our time serious. And there was only one way to prove it: They had to deliver. Either that or; there would be more than 60 people who were not afraid to remind them of their failure – daily. And to both my, as well as every other person I spoke with over those two weeks, the feeling was unanimous. The experience went from a dreaded civic duty – to a positive experience in fulfilling that duty. In can not be overemphasize how monumental of a shift this is. The only comparison would be if one were to now look forward to receiving a letter from a revenue agency.

This was done by an assortment of innovative ideas such as varying check in times. Early releases when circumstances afforded. An an assortment of impromptu speeches or, learning talks by various judges, as well as other public officials and more explaining different aspects of the “system.” Tours were given of the underbelly of the court system. Discussions were held to expand understandings or, point out and answer misconceptions. And yet, a whole lot more.

Down time (or waiting periods) were supplied with a high-speed wi-fi set up so one could do tasks, work, or check email securely. Movies were shown on a big screen. One was allowed to visit other in-session courtrooms as to see how differing courts operated. It was a civic lesson worthy of college credits. And what it did was one thing that almost every other jurisdiction in the country has not been able to match – this county’s jury pool system has the lowest number of failure to respond rates in the nation with a rate somewhere under 2% where most others are not only double digits; some are well over 50%.

Remember, this is an experience that is seen by many as one of “the worst” of possible outcomes that was transformed into a venerable two-week civic sabbatical which was seen in the end by those attending as both “eye opening” as well as “actually enjoyable.” Again, this isn’t inside/outside the box thinking that produces such transformations as this. This comes from people willing to improve things with an eye towards – there is no box.

If this can be done to the “jury box.” What excuse does it leave for other venues such as “We appreciate your time. The next representative will be with you in 2,145 minutes. Thanks for calling!” After all, if that’s less than half of your nearest competitor. Is your thinking still of the mindset: “That’s just the way it is?”

Imagine if you were the one who thought: “But it doesn’t have to be!” And actually made it so.

Do you think you or your customers could profit from that? I bet you both would. Or, Is that just the way it is?

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™ is a monthly memo, which is pithy, powerful, and to the point. It focuses on innovative techniques and or ideas that you can put to work immediately in your daily or business life.