Saturday, November 14, 2015

There are too many opportunities to go wrong

Every month, I volunteer at my local food coop. 

It’s all part of the membership agreement. If you want cheap carrots, you have to put in one shift a month. That’s the deal. 

But what’s interesting is, I learn something new every time I work. And not just about the grocery business, but about business in general. 

Recently, I spent an afternoon answering phone calls in the membership office. And the shift manager told me, never take a message. Interesting piece of advice for a call center. But it made total sense.

We have sixteen thousand members, she reminded me, and there are too many opportunities for things to go wrong. And if they do go wrong, people just going end up complaining, but I left a message, what happened? Then nothing get resolved. And so, if there’s a problem, solve it now. Don’t call them back. Put people on hold and go find the answer. 

It’s a brilliant customer service strategy. Never take a message. Even if it seems counterintuitive. In fact, call centers have been stressing first call resolution for decades. It’s a common performance metric. But every organization can apply this logic. 

Do whatever it takes to frontload the work, and you’ll insure yourself against the snowballing of downstream problems. 


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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
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