We all dread the call center with phone prompts because you find yourself in the space of never ending menu options. Why do companies do this? Well for one, they are attempting to get you to the right person because they are likely measuring how quickly that person can handle your issue. They can then state that the cost per transaction is “X” and place a value on the service they provide. The problem with this metric is that it doesn’t match the customer’s metric. The customer’s metric is “How effectively can you handle my issue?” and when they are placed in endless prompts, customers begin to question if the company really does value their business.

How you measure customer service is an issue that comes up with clients I work with all the time, and while the most common way companies measure service is to leverage the internal metric of cost per transaction and the operational expenditure of the service provided, these may not be the best metrics.  Why? Because when an organization aims to provide customer service for the least possible cost, it can be a recipe for disaster. Instead they should be asking, “What is the true value we are adding to our customer?”

Recently I contacted my bank and what I found to be surprising was someone answered my call immediately! I was caught off guard for a moment because I was expecting the typical prompts and not a live person. The best part was that this person was kind, patient and handled my issue right away. I never felt like I was inconveniencing them and didn’t need to call back for anything else because she thoroughly handled my need.

When I challenge organizations on how they measure customer service, I tell them to try and divorce themselves from their internal “operating expense” thinking and truly try to understand their customer. Instead of using a “speed of resolution” metric which makes it difficult to be successful, change your metric to “How do we solve our customer’s problems?” If you put the right level of effort into your customer service, you will find your customers are easier to assist and they are happy – which makes your company thrive. Start with asking if you are effectively solving your customers’ problems, then you can look at efficiency afterward and you will find you have a recipe for value and success.