What is “System Thinking” and How Is It Germaine To Customer Service?

If you don”t  “think systems”, you can’t reach the pinnacle of customer service excellence

What is “System Thinking” and How Is It Germane To Customer Service?

If your goal is to improve customer service, you need to have the mental tools to analyze and understand the companies and people who deliver it or receive it. Understanding system thinking and applying it to customer service issues is THE means of moving beyond the tragically simple thinking that characterizes much of the popular thinking about customer service.

What Is System Thinking

In a nutshell (though I suggest you look wider to get a better picture, system thinking involves looking at the multitude of people, practices and materials that go into and can affect what one is interested in, which is, in this case, customer service improvement. It’s based on the idea that the relationships within a system, and the way “things” interact with each other and depend on each other, makes the whole different than the sum of the parts.

An Example of System Thinking and Customer Service

You got to the Acme Shoe Store, and the clerk appears to be frustrated and impatient with you as you choose shoes for your daughter’s wedding. Then you get frustrated and walk out without buying anything. When you get home, you tell your spouse that you couldn’t believe how disinterested and sour the clerk was, and that you think he should be fired.

That’s the “normal” simple analysis. We all do this, in fact most of the time. Except the conclusion that the clerk should be fired is very probably wrong. The clerk does no exist in a vacuum. What he does is affected by other members of the system and that includes both people (the human system), the HR system (pay rates), the inventory system (shoes are never in stock making it hard to serve customers).

In fact, if you took that clerk and put him in a different “system” in which to sell shoes, he could be superb.

None of that matters if you are the customers. Poor service is poor service. However, if your job is to improve customer service for the company, it’s essential to look at the entire system to determine, understand and fix poor customer service.

Author: Robert Bacal

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