How many people should be answering the phone at Zappos on a Saturday? What’s Southwest Airlines policy regarding hotel stays and cancelled flights? Should the knobs on the shower at the hotel go side by side or one above the other? Can I turn it on without getting sprayed with cold water? How many steps from the front of the hotel to the registration desk?
Too often, we blame bad service on the people who actually deliver the service. Sometimes (often) it’s not their fault. Sadly, the complaints rarely make it as far as the overpaid (or possibly overworked) executive who made the bad design decision in the first place. It’s the architecture of service that makes the phone ring and that makes customers leave.
Three quick tips for anyone who cares about this:
1. Require service designers to sign their work. Who decided to make it the way it is?
2. Run a customer service audit. Walk through the building or the software or the phone tree with all the designers in the room and call out what’s not right.
3. Make it easy for complaints (and compliments) about each decision to reach the designer (and her boss).
In my experience, most of the problems are caused by ignorance and isolation, not incompetence or a lack of concern.