The Swings and Roundabouts of Customer Service

16 August 2014

Customer service is always a hot topic for businesses as we all strive to get it right but occasionally fail to do so. Whether a sole trader, a limited company or large corporation the underlying challenges remain the same.

The age old diagram of ‘The Tree Swing’ illustrates the pitfalls of poor customer service, and the dangers of failing to properly listen to customers and interpret their needs. It also demonstrates the dangers of internal and external barriers, and failures of staff, departments and external partners to talk to communicate effectively. Uncertainty surrounds the origins of the Tree Swing diagram and several variations now exist, however the message is clear as follows:

The Swings and Roundabouts of Customer Service (Section 1 & Image)

Here are a few thoughts on what could be going on…………

Marketing - want to add unnecessary value, add complexity, bells and whistles, embellish, put their own mark onto things, think they know what's best for the customers even if the survey feedback is utterly clear, fail to consult with engineering, production and anyone else in the organisation.

Sales and Management - are cost-conscious, process-led rather than output-aware. Fail to ask questions, committee decisions produce impractical solutions, removed from reality, detached from customers and front-line staff, don’t consult with users and functional departments.

Engineering – make a technical interpretation rather than practical one being unconcerned with aesthetics and ergonomics, consideration stops after the 'can we build it?' stage so their lack of consultation with user representatives, ensures they meet specification but the end result doesn't work properly, using inappropriate materials and absence of styling.

Manufacturing – believes that production specification over-rides design considerations, and are a law unto themselves, eg. you get what you're given, any colour you like as long as it's black. They also are detached from users as well as designers, and everyone else except other manufacturing staff and don’t liaise with all other departments.

Fitting team – have a motto that necessity is the mother of invention, having very big tool-boxes, huge stocks of parts and ancillaries, materials, nuts, bolts and all other fixings known to man, happy to work all hours, especially evenings, weekends and public holidays at treble-time-and-a-half with days off in lieu. They never consult with other partners or customers, enjoy quick-fixes, sticky-tape and think management are all useless idiots who can't even change a plug.

Customers – are left thinking if only they had all listened, understood, and checked with me once in a while......

If only everyone had communicated effectively!!!!

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