Service: The Moving Target

You can’t please everyone all of the time. You offer to cook dinner for your partner, but you get caught up in a work project and unintentionally renege. Your boss is happy; your partner isn’t. It’s the same with service. The definition of great service isn’t universal. One client might be thrilled with a service process; another might feel differently. Which brings me to something that happened a few weeks ago at Optimal—and got me thinking about service as a moving target.

One of our super client service executives (CSE) created a document to use when responding to client requests for service explanations. When a client asks us for an explanation of what we did for them, a thorough analysis of the detailed project documentation takes place. In addition, a meeting with the engineers who performed the work, the CSE, the president of Optimal, and me occurs. Usually, the CSE would then take this information and respond to the client in whichever way they felt best. This specific CSE took this data and produced an easy-to-understand, one-page document responding to the client’s inquiry that addressed the question, the solution, and an explanation of why Optimal provided this particular solution. When she showed the document to me, I thought it was genius (and immediately started to think about it as a template we can now use to respond to client service inquiries because it was so straightforward, yet thorough).

So, the CSE sent the document to the client. And the client didn’t like it. The CSE came to me, frustrated and upset, afraid that she had not provided premium service. In fact, she had. In trying to better serve this client, she had now developed a novel way to deliver information to clients—a new Optimal service process had been created that the majority of our clients will appreciate.

The lesson? Service is a moving target and you can’t hit a bullseye every time. But often, when optimal service is your goal, you end up helping someone in some way (it just may not be the way you intended).

What do YOU think?

  • Is the concept of service as a moving target challenging or frustrating? Do you have an example?
  • Do you have an example of a situation in which you intended to help in one way but ended up helping in a completely different way?
  • Can you think of an organization that adapts its service processes to hit as many bullseyes as they can?

Post your response!