Anyway, to start at the beginning ….
I had to go and ‘swear an affidavit’ –
which for those of you not into the jargon of jurisprudence means to formally
promise what you are saying on a form is true. In
Now, it started, I admit, with me failing in my responsibility to be a proactive customer. I did not think
through what I knew. County Courts in
So, I had a perfect example of a ‘Moment of Truth’; putting me instantly, and very extremely, ‘anti’ the staff and the processes. It seemed obviously the staff are required to leave common-sense at home and not bring it to work with them.
And thus, in a bad mood I reached the court officer with whom I was to sign and swear that my forms told the truth. She spots my mood, finds out why and explains that the rules are for protection and cannot be altered – causing no improvement in my mood. She then looks at my forms and points out that I have not brought all the right documents – and then throws in for good measure that my solicitor has supplied my with the wrong set of forms.
So … it is now clear to me that I have driven into town, paid for my car parking, lost my knife for the duration and all for nothing because my paperwork is wrong. But fear not – after this it gets better. I had been expecting a businesslike word or two of sympathy and if I allowed myself a glimmer of optimism then maybe even an explanation of what I needed to go back and fetch, so that it would work when I came back.
Instead the lady reacted very differently. She pointed out that the forms I have forgotten are copies of documents they already have lodged with them, and that they have blank forms of the right kind. She fetches the missing forms, lends me a pen and helps me understand what is needed on the right form, checks it through, makes corrections and then duly witnesses it and formally logs it in the system as sworn and correct. As she put it “Well the purpose is to get your stuff recorded, if I can make that happen then why wouldn’t I help?”
Of course she was perfectly right, her job is to help get these things done, and so thinking for herself and helping people get there is an obviously correct attitude. Isn’t that exactly how everyone in service delivery sees it?
Well, of course we all know that it isn’t – not yet! The sad aspect of this kind of story is how surprised we all are by them – that they are worthy or repeating because this quality of service is still unusual.’
The key aspect of this story – with its two different approaches to dealing with the customers - is how much good service experience depends on customer facing staff that are knowledgeable of the customer’s context and goals. But more than that even, the management trusted and empowered (at least some of) their staff to use common sense and do what was right – maybe even if it didn’t follow exact procedures.
Are the customer-facing staff in your organisation trusted and empowered? If not, is it because they can’t be trusted, or because they have been given the knowledge? Or is it just that no-one has ever thought it would be a good idea to trust and empower them? What happens in your organisation – do you get good service or do you a strict process delivered, whether or not it is appropriate?