The secret of great service and low costs: give customers what they need



It's a counter-intuitive truth: the secret of great service and low costs is to give customers what they need.

Vicky Harston explains why understanding what matters to customers and doing just that is critical to delivering good service, improving staff morale, increasing revenue, and minimising what Taguchi describes as 'economic loss to the system'.

Using examples from public and private sectors, Vicky explains why organisations don't typically do what matters to customers and how their 'command and control' thinking binds them to responding in ways that:

  • make service worse,
  • make staff embarrassed and lowers morale,
  • reduce revenue, and
  • drive costs through the roof.  

Leaders perceive they have control through standardisation, such as standardised scripts, policies, and procedures.  Vicky explains the counter-intuitative truth that leaders lose control through standardisation.  It fails to absorb the variety in demand: worsening service, driving up costs, reducing revenue and lowering morale.

Understanding demand is key to learning what matters to customers and what they need.  Vicky describes the typical results leaders achieve when they do this and the strategic choices that become available to leaders as a consequence.

Vicky and John Seddon, Vanguard's Managing Director, answer questions from the audience after Vicky's presentation.