20 years of change
Next week, my wife and I will celebrate being married for 20 years. This may to some who know us, seem like a remarkable achievement. However, it is natural at these times of anniversaries and birthdays to look back and try to imagine life as it was.
So what was life like in 1989?
I think that ‘interesting’ is the word. It was the age before the internet, but what else was happening?
Protests in China in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Who can forget the tanks that were halted by a lone protester?
Other news included Poland electing first non-communist Prime Minister and Russian troops leaving Afghanistan after 9 years of occupation.
All these events were significant and marked the start of change, but for me, looking back, the biggest difference was that there was no internet. This meant that customers wanting to request any type of service, only had 2 choices of communicating with the service provider, either by telephone or by letter. It may be hard to imagine for adults, and impossible for children to imagine life without the internet. This allows us access and the ability to communicate with anybody or any company at any time. So the implication is that, instead of our letter reaching the supplier and them responding by letter, we expect an immediate response from our supplier.
Along with this has come increasing customer choice. If their supplier is not able to meet their request, then there is always the option of choosing a different supplier. Excellent customer service is the key to success as this is the contact between customer and employee. The ability to meet or exceed customer expectations is a key requirement.
Another key factor is employee satisfaction. A friend of mine recently purchased a new washing machine which then developed a problem. He called the manufacturer (who had outsourced the service to a 3rd party). He was given a service appointment which was a 4 hour window. The engineer arrived late, very stressed from having to drive far longer than the allocated 30 minutes. He was not a happy employee as he had this stress on a daily basis. Also late appointments meant that he did not get home until after 7pm at night. The result of this was an unhappy customer and an unhappy employee.
It seems that best-in-class service organizations try to eliminate this kind of a problem through better travel routing and more accurate appointment times and engineer skills. This in-turn helps reduce customer and employee churn as well as providing ‘green’ benefits through lower travel.
Did we talk about ‘green’ benefits 20 years ago? Probably not, but I am sure that we will certainly still be talking about them in 20 years time……