Are your processes destroying your customer service?

Customer service is different to customer care. Customer service is the process in which you handle your customers and often these processes can destroy the experience you want your customer to have.

A friend of mine was travelling on business recently and arrived at the airport less his baggage. Not to worry, said the airline, it’ll be along on the next flight in and we’ll send it straight over to your hotel so you can wake up with your bags.

True to their word the bag was delivered to the hotel reception at 2 in the morning whilst my friend was sound asleep.  However, a call from reception came, advising that the bag had been delivered and would he like it delivered to his room. Naturally he was woken by this call.

“Its ok, I’ll come down and collect it”, he said, “on second thoughts you might as well bring it up here now, I’ve been woken anyway.”

Waiting an hour, no bag, he trudged downstairs to fetch his bag. The receptionist misheard and thought he was going collect it.

Why didn’t the receptionist act differently? He couldn’t as he was following procedure, modus operandi.

Back in February, I was travelling home on the 7 o’clock mainline train from London. It was a cold dark night, a frost developing. As we were slowing to pull into Stroud station, someone decided to commit suicide in front of the train. How totally awful for everyone concerned most especially the driver. Protocol took over as it should as these events have, unfortunately, been planned for.

We waited in the train for four hours before it was driven the few yards to the station from where we were eventually bussed home.  Arriving home at gone 3am, I felt exhausted and did question the protocol, but kept saying it was justified.

Are your procedures, your protocols justified? Are they customer friendly?  If not, can we fix them, because we ought to, before we focus on customer care?