Steve Cohn

Is “Service Roulette” Driving Customers Away from your Business?

Is “Service Roulette” Driving Customers Away from your Business?

While attending a recent conference in Las Vegas, I decided to chance some of my hard-earned money and time at the roulette table. I placed my chips on various numbers and watched as the croupier spun the wheel. Sadly, I did not win, which I kind of expected. So, I tried again several times and on the fifth spin of the wheel, I hit my number! (Actually, I played “even/odd”, so it was a 50-50 chance). I walked away satisfied, but wondering if it had been worth my time.

A couple of days later, I played roulette again, but I was far from a table in Las Vegas. This time, I was on the phone, calling my cable company for some help. I spoke to one representative and within two minutes realized she had no idea what she was doing. I spoke with another who inadvertently (or on purpose) dropped the call. 

Finally, I found an agent who actually seemed to know what needed to be done and took some action. She was very professional and went the extra mile, getting me an appointment for the next day, which was a Sunday. I was impressed enough to speak with her supervisor and register my pleasure over how the representative treated me.

Tell me if you’ve played that game.

I had played “Service Roulette.” Pick up the phone, spin the wheel. Will the ball land on an agent who knows what he’s doing or land on one who doesn’t? Will she be polite or rude? Will he take care of you or drop your call? Will she find a way to exceed your expectations or disappoint you? It all depends on where the ball lands and the wheel stops.

Service roulette. You never know who you’re going to get. It’s the luck of the queue.

To find out why and how service roulette happens, we have to look at employees and what the organization expects from them.

There are three types of performance in an organization.

We begin with “Basic performance.” Every job has a part which is “functional.” Many employees, if not most employees, learn to do the basic requirements of the job and believe that is enough. These employees are components. They’re interchangeable. And they tend to be micro-managed.

Then there is “Power Performance.” These employees perform with impact. They know exactly why they are there, what it means to be excellent, and how to meet and exceed their customer’s expectations. They can tell you the impact their performance makes in the lives of their customers and their co-workers. They will not let anything get in the way of serving the customer. We love these people.

The problem comes when you have Power Performers and basic performance in the same company, especially in the same area. We call that “Unreliable Performance.” Your customer never knows which performer he or she is going to get. Pick up the phone. Spin the wheel. Who’s going to answer?

Service roulette.

Don’t gamble with your customer’s business. Customer experience should never be a game of chance. Your customer should never have to worry about spinning the roulette wheel to see what kind of performance she gets. We can’t afford to have power performers and basic performers in the same queue. We owe our customers more than that. Start to improve your basic performers or let them go and take the time to find the performers who will strive to have an impact. It’s worth the wait and the effort.

By the way, the day after my call, I received an automated call that told me that my appointment, which was supposed to be for Sunday, was actually going to take place on Monday. Totally frustrated, I picked up the phone … and spun the wheel … again.

By Steve Cohn

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