David Mitchell – Systems Thinking

David Mitchell Blog

I look forward to joining Merranti Consulting to bring a different perspective to how we currently go about organisational change and transformation within the ‘service sector’. Throughout my 10 year career as a business management consultant and specialising in ‘Systems Thinking’ I’ve always experienced the same situation when entering a new client. They have built a myriad of KPI’s/measures around each of their functional groups, the vast majority of which are based on the performance of the people. These are invariably enforced with targets. On the surface this looks to be good, measures are moving the right direction, targets are being met, quality standards are in the high 90%’s. What’s the problem you may ask? But when you start to dig a little deeper and ask some questions in relation to the perspective of the customer and the service they are experiencing then a vastly different picture starts to emerge.

You listen and observe where customers are transacting with the organisation and find that a large proportion (range of 20%-80%) of contact be it by telephone, email, online etc.. is in relation to something wrong about the service e.g. ‘you haven’t fixed my problem’, ‘the wrong product has turned up’, ‘you said it would arrive today, it hasn’t!’ ‘this is the third time I’ve called you about this!’, ‘when will I get my money?’ Does this sound all too familiar? The customer gets frustrated as they find it very difficult to get hold of someone who wants to help them. They get moved to the functional groups each saying the next person can help them. The customers will probably, but not always, get their issue resolved eventually. But they have expended a good deal of effort, time, maybe money and experienced anxiety along the way. The organisation may well get the customer to go through hoops to get the issue sorted out. Each will have their own process (T & C’s) that the customer will have to follow because if they don’t, nothing will happen. Wouldn’t it be great if the first person you deal with sorts the problem/issue there and then or even better still it never occurred in the first place? Of course, it’s not the intention of the organisation to provide this type of service because it’s costing them a good deal of their revenue employing people or contracting people off-shore to deal with it.

When you start to expose owners/leaders to what reality looks like from the perspective of the customer then the light bulbs start to illuminate. You may ask yourself why owners/leaders don’t already see this, surely they must know. Unfortunately, the conventional way service organisations are structured and managed lends itself to a much-internalised view, an inside-out rather than an outside-in perspective. Although service organisations believe they are customer-centric the truth is, and this I absolutely believe is not intentional, they are not.  This internalised view has left them blind to the real purpose, from the customer’s point of view, they should be pursuing. It’s surprising that when this view is changed, or the focus is realigned how quickly good things start to occur. Performance i.e. revenue, service, efficiency and morale, the very things service organisations are so keen to improve get dramatically better quickly.