Organizations need to look at their business through the eyes of their customers. It amazes me how many times I walk into a business, go to a website, call an organization or receive a mailing from someone that I’m sure makes sense for the organization, but is totally not what works for me, the customer. This is because the organization is not viewing what it does through the eyes of the customer.
Let me give you an example that is close to me. Most graduate programs require that before a student can start the program and take a class, (s)he must first fill out an application, pay an application fee, take some sort of graduate exam (which costs hundreds of dollars), have transcripts sent, write an essay, get outside recommendations and do who knows what else BEFORE they ever set foot in a course. This is done because the program wants to make sure the students are qualified to do graduate level work and will be a good fit for the institution. The problem with this is that most of these potential students just want to know if they would like going to graduate school and if they can handle the work with everything else going on in their lives. To jump through all the hoops mentioned above and pay hundreds of dollars to do so doesn’t make good sense to many prospective students. It would be like buying a $20,000 car (a reasonable cost for a graduate degree) without ever seeing it or driving it.
If you look at this process through the eyes of the customer, you see the solution would be to let a student “try out” the program. Allow them to take a class or two to see if it is a good fit and then have them do the work above to be admitted into the program. So in fact, this is how we run our graduate programs at Rockford College. Yes, it takes a bit more time in our offices and we’ve had to change many of our processes, but the result is a system that makes sense for the customer and helps them make a good decision based on experience.
To give you a counter example, I was once asked to come to a company to talk about customer service training. I went into the lobby and there wasn’t a living person in sight. Just a phone with a sign that said, “Please dial your party’s extension.” There was no directory, either! I just started dialing numbers until someone answered. Needless to say, I “passed” on doing the training. That company didn’t even understand the basics! You can’t serve your customers well if this is the first impression the customer gets.
Organizations for years have developed systems that make their operations efficient and effective, which is great! The problem is many times these systems don’t include the most important element - the customer. It will help every organizations to rethink and redevelop systems so they work for the benefit of their customers.