The Important Connection: Customer Service Excellence and Operational Excellence


There is a direct connection between customer service excellence and operational excellence. Zappos, for example, has incorporated customer service as part of their business model. When customer service and business operations function at extreme efficiency your business will thrive; Retaining your existing customers and gaining new ones.

One goal for any business should be to optimize productivity through precision and efficiency of its operations. While this should certainly not be the ONLY goal of a business, it is one that should hold weight in decision formulation.

Every business is such because it has something to sell, whether it be a product or a service. Therefore, every business has a customer and target audience that should be considered with every innovation and modification. When a business evaluates its operations, and subsequently incorporates what they may consider efficiency improvements, it cannot successfully do so independently of the customer. This is the key idea that you should keep in mind as you continue reading…

Why can’t a business effect operational efficiency or enhance operational productivity without the customer as its focus for improvement?

Consider this scenario…

You hypothetically walk into a fast food restaurant. You’re in a rush on your way to work. Or, you could have been studying in the library for hours, prior. Perhaps, you were leaving work after a long day.

Well, that day you decided to pause life for a moment to satiate the discomfort in your stomach. You pull into the parking lot and walk into the establishment. It’s busy…which causes you to consider leaving. But you are already there, and your favorite sandwich or beverage is on the menu. The line appears to be moving because there are two people at the cash registers, taking orders. Thankfully, you get to order and cash out. All you must do now is wait…The waitlist for order pickup is a long one, and there is only one person preparing customers’ orders. Since you’ve already paid all that you can do is stand amidst the aroma of food and the announcement of names, being summoned to collect their orders.

From the perspective of the customer, does this business provide excellent customer service?

From the perspective of the business, does this current operation yield the lowest operational cost?

If you’re a patient customer this scenario might not incite an ill taste of the establishment for you. This business would be fortunate to have customers with this mindset. However, the reality of customer service is that a vast number of customers would rather do away with this wait time for their food, especially with it being considered a fast food restaurant. Although, there were two cashiers taking orders, there was only one person preparing orders.

The ultimate goal of a fast food restaurant should be for the customer to receive their food faster than they would if they chose to go to a sit-down restaurant. The faster the service the more satisfied the customer. But also, the faster the service, the more efficient the service needs to become so that fewer mistakes are made, thus lowering operational costs.

Every minute that the fast food restaurant is open, money is spent. Employees, air-conditioning, light, fridges, ovens and stoves are all expenses. Therefore the more customers that can go through, order, and receive their meals should equal more than the focus for improvement. Thus, a longer wait-time not ONLY slows the customer, and creates a possibility for the customer to decide that the service is not good enough to ever return, it also hinders the operational productivity of the business. Lesser productivity does little to facilitate its operational costs.

In the presented scenario, the two cashiers ensure that the business secures customers’ money, by taking their orders faster. This structure benefits the business more so than the customer. The business risks losing their customers’ money if the lines to order and pay are longer than the line for receiving orders. In the short-run, this method works in favor of the business. If this operation was created with the customer as the primary focus, then the orders would be provided faster. The methodology that I’m beginning to describe is excellent customer service.

Excellent customer service places the customers’ needs as primary. Excellent customer service listens to the “voice of the customer,” considering what would make the customer happy and unhappy. Further, this entails having a thorough understanding of how an operation would impact the customer. This is essential in order to not only retain customers, but to also gain new ones. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. The level of satisfaction of the customer yields free advertising. In the long-run considering the customer is the key to an efficient operational design, in order to stay in business and to increase business.

A trainer once posed this metaphor to a class: A business stands on one end of a river and the customer stands a little way off, downstream. In between both lies boulders, obstacles slowing the flow of the water. If the flow of water symbolizes service delivery to the customer, which boulder would you move first, the boulder nearest to the business or to the customer?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

About the Author: Hazel

Share this article