Interesting observation in a meeting yesterday from Richard about service organisations, and specifically large service organisations and why they often lose sight of the customer and the shifting demands of a dynamic market.
Everybody says they’re in business to serve the customer, but the people who are actually customer facing and customer serving are often those with the least experience, the least knowledge and the least authority because that lowers cost-per-serve. Unfortunately, it also lowers quality, depth, flexibility and engagement, compromising the brand experience and making service a commoditised set of processes that frontline staff are judged on their ability to conform to.
The situation should logically resolve itself as people become more valuable to the organisation, and therefore gain what has been missing when they were on the frontline – experience, knowledge, authority, influence and networks. But what actually happens is that those people are shepherded into talent programmes that promote them further and further away from a direct relationship with customers – which is an increasing juxtaposition in itself – and their focus moves. It becomes more and more introverted.
Market-based innovation then becomes increasingly difficult, because the people now empowered to make change decisions are locked into an internal bubble that seals their own market impressions firmly in the past. They are also fighting battles and priorities that actually have increasingly little to do with where the money comes from.