Zombie Deming takes issue with a poster

Oh dear! Somebody should have warned him!

So, what would cause a perfectly sane manager to stick “WORK HARDER” posters up and not expect to be lynched?

  • Command and control thinking as at it’s heart control through commands. The purpose of the effective manager is to choose the correct things to do and ensure his staff do them, so…
  • Whenever you see customer service standards on a wall, they are the orders of the day. Everyday. They are seen as a badge of pride, what they stand for.
  • The C&C manager thinks that the clearer the requirements on a wall poster, the better he has done his job.  SMART! Nice and clear.

But what would Zombie Deming say?
Take it away Zombie Deming!

Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets asking for zero defects or new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.

Yeah! And they’re mainly naff as, am I right?

They reveal the threadbare assumption that work can be changed by telling people clearly through the application of  posters and blue-tack.

You change work by acting on the system, and that doesn’t mean tinkering with CRM systems or IVR.  It means you pay attention to what matters to the customer and how well your service helps them.  Answering the phone quickly isn’t helping them.  Is boasting that all emails receive an automatic response really something that impresses? I can turn on my out-of-office response on my work email.  That’s all it is! Do I get a gold star too?

If answering 80% of calls within 20s is the goal, then what is the purpose? What are customer service standards for? In fact, what the hell is customer service at all if answering the phone quickly achieves the purpose?

The worst thing that has happened to customers is customer service. It’s a wedge between customers and the actual service they want, an irrelevant and annoying tangle of costly IT systems and de-skilled staff.  And at the heart of it are the snakes nest of KPIs that exist because they can be measured.  Every customer service standard can be measured. Suspicious? They can be measured because that’s where it starts from, not purpose but from measurable activity.

Customer service standards are a badge of shame, a  fig-leaf to cover the absence of purpose. Who-ever originally invented them, I’d eat their brains myself if I could.

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