It’s often feasible, although it can be painful to invest in operational improvements that pay off in the end by reducing customer demands for extra services to provide them with auxiliary services shortly. One example is the decision of Intuit to offer customer support for free, contrary to the norms of the software industry. Call centers cost a lot of money to personnel due to the technical skills and social savvy needed to respond effectively to inquiries. Customers are also extremely diverse in their requirements in relation to information technology. For the majority of software companies, this is a clear conclusion that customers are obligated to pay for support.
Intuit’s founder Scott Cook sees the matter differently. These calls Cook believes are important feedback to the ongoing development of products–the engine for future revenue growth–which is why they require a higher expenditure. Intuit has higher-paying Product-development personnel, not only customer service representatives, making calls to ensure that future versions of its products are informed by an intimate understanding of what users are trying to achieve and the reasons they’re unhappy. It’s part of a larger dedication to improving its products through feedback that Cook calls “DIRST” to “do things right the second time around.” The investment has resulted in improved software, which translates into fewer calls. “Our rivals think we’re nuts,” Cook says, and he knows the reason. “If we received more calls than they do, then we’d be out of business.”
The customer is expected to do the job.
However, another funding method for better service places costs back in the customers’ hands by way of labor. Self-service options, from pump-your-own gasoline or self-managed accounts for the brokerage, are proven to cut costs. If your goal is to provide quality service, however, it is essential to make sure that customers prefer self-service over a fully-service option that is readily available. Airlines have successfully introduced kiosks to check-in for flights, though their initial value proposition was questionable. Initially, travelers felt pressured to use the largely unappealing kiosks because airlines allowed lines on the front of desks that were manned to get tolerable. At present frequent flyers prefer kiosks since they offer easier access to useful tools, such as seat maps. Companies looking to attain the highest level of service in other settings should not go down this indirect path. They must take on the task of developing self-service options that customers be happy with. If the self-service option is preferred, customers must be prepared to do the job for no cost or pay for it. If the managers who design self-service options cannot include the incentive of price discounts, they must concentrate on improving the customer experience.