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Best Practice: Your Path to Mediocrity

Tripp Babbitt

The new JD Power report is out and they have a list of the top 40 customer service "winners." Your service organization can too become just like them by buying the guide to the best practices of these organizations for a mere $495.

This offer appears to be a nice "short cut" to improved service. However, it is not what you need.

Best practice will get your service in deep trouble. It is a form of copying and copying almost always leads to problems. Just like service is different to manufacturing, your customer service is different from your competitors. Copying someone else will always keep you behind.

Every organization has in it what it needs to improve, you do not need to look outside your own company. In fact, doing so makes you mediocre. Employees start to check their brains out the door, because the "not invented here" mentality takes over. Everyone waits for the next big idea from management that is just a microwaved leftover that some other company executed.

Most businesses have no clue how to look at an organization and improve it. Mostly because they look inside-out and top-down rather that outside-in from a customer's perspective.

Systemic change from getting knowledge about service systems can lead to dramatic improvement. More importantly, you have no need to copy or use best practices.

Believe it or not, those front-line employees that you hire for close to minimum wage or outsource can provide you with innovative thinking if you learn how to tap that resource. They are close to the customer and if you are not too busy developing entrapping technology, or finding new ways to keep an eye on them. They can separate you from the competition. The paradox is that doing so saves you in technology and monitoring expenses.

Serious improvement in contact centers begins with knowledge, and the only folks with real knowledge of the customer are the ones picking up the phones or dealing with customers face-to-face. It is time to rethink our approach to benchmarking by being truly innovative in our approach to improvement.