Guest Post by Andrea Buczynski

Originally posted on April 1, 2013 on Andrea’s blog AB Reflections

For the past seven months, I’ve had a problem with a particular service, and interacted with their customer service people regularly. All of them have been courteous, and respectful.  I appreciate that very much! In fact, after several calls, I have received an automated phone call to rate the performance of the individual, though there has never been a problem with the actual interaction in terms of the behavior I experienced.

The problem is that the problem never got fixed

So, would you say that their customer service is effective?  From my point of view, no.  Had the problem been solved, I would not have to call back more than once, maybe twice.

Today as I listened to yet another automated customer service feedback survey, I found myself thinking, “they will never solve their problems this way.”

They are not asking the right questions.

All of that got me thinking about effectiveness overall.  When we measure effectiveness through transactions only, we do ourselves a disservice.  The bottom line is – how well we are doing in fulfilling our mission?  We may see improvements in behavior as in the customer service example, but what if the problem is not in the transaction?  What if it’s in the system?  What if it’s in our assumptions?

In my example, the assumption seems to be that if the customer service person is courteous and takes ownership of your problem, offers an apology and takes some action, then they have done their job.  All of that has taken place, so, I can only assume that they are not looking at callbacks as part of their effectiveness.

Being effective requires aggressive learning.

Assuming that addressing direct cause and effect will solve the whole problem is flawed.   Did the people do what we thought they should do?  Yes.  Then, good. They did “their job.”  But really, did they?

Leaders ask additional questions.

  • Why is this lady having to call back every month with the same problem?
  • How is it that their data system rejects their changes every month?
  • What if changes or upgrades they made to their system now prevent customer service agents from actually solving customer problems?

If you’re not looking at questions like that, your learning is not aggressive enough, and your mission will suffer for it.

Good leaders will examine results, both the individual transactions as well as context and patterns.  They will look for causes beyond the immediate actions.  In reflecting on results, we have to ask ourselves some hard questions.

  • Are we fulfilling our mission?  How would we know?
  • What assumptions do we have about fulfilling our mission?  Are they still true?
  • What challenges repeatedly surface?  Are we addressing them?
  • Are we repeating the same mistakes and not learning from them? Why is that?

As leaders, we have stewardship of our mission, people and resources.  Are we paying attention to our effectiveness?  Are we utilizing all we have to full advantage in going after our mission?  If your mission is worth doing, these are questions worth asking.

Servant leaders get to the root cause … Cheryl Bachelder

What questions do you regularly ask to evaluate effectiveness?
Andrea Buczynski is Vice President of Global Leadership Development for Cru.  Her current focus is on developing leaders who are able to believe God, think strategically, love whole-heartedly, and lead courageously, so that everyone will know someone who truly follows Jesus.

Personal Note from Bob: It was my friend and colleague Andrea who motivated me to launch my blog!  Thank You Andrea!

Which of your friends would thank you if you forwarded this post to them?

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2 thoughts on “On Effectiveness (Or The Lack Of It)

  1. Pam Smith says:

    Love the post. I am one of those people who enjoys helping organizations with whom I choose to do business to improve. To help an organization I keep a record of all that has transpired in my quest to get an issue resolved and then give them the gift of my time in staying the course and seeing it all the way through.

    Companies have barriers in place that slow down problem resolution. For example, a recent experience had the very courteous service representatives give me “their 5-digit numbers” so that I could reference that number should I wish to follow up with them. In subsequent attempts for resolution, I discovered there was absolutely no way to be able to request and speak with those reps who so courteously gave me “their numbers”.

    Your post has inspired me…..I’m going barrier-hunting in my own organization today. :o)

    1. Pam thank you! Would love to know what questions you are using to barrier-hunt in your organization?

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