David J. Danto
Principal Consultant, Collaboration/ AV / Multimedia / Video / UC
Director of Emerging Technology
Interactive Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance
Pain-in-the-Neck, Serviced with a Smile
I just hung-up from a telephone call with my doctor…oh, wait, forgive me – with my Primary Care Physician. She told me that all of my pre-surgical tests checked-out fine. (Now how’s that for a “kissing your sister” experience? Everything is fine – except the thing that’s so not fine we’re cutting you open to fix it. But let me try not to go off on too many tangents today…)
My doctor did a terrific job of collaborating with multiple other specialists over a last minute issue that came up. She emailed and conferenced with five other physicians for me to get the all clear – including a couple that are not in her group practice. She used the same type of collaboration tools you’d find in any other large enterprise, but in this case the technology was used to improve the healthcare I will receive. I’m all set for a one day hospital procedure to remove a couple of discs in my neck that are…well let’s just say not playing nice in the sandbox anymore. I don’t know how “all-set” I am for the recovery at home with a stiff collar on my neck, but it’ll be a small price to pay I guess.
I’m very thankful for the extra effort she went through to make sure every concern was addressed and set-aside. It reminds me that despite how awful the healthcare industry has become in the USA, there are still doctors that realize they are there to help their patients and not just to make money. This is unfortunately much more difficult to find in today’s world, as businesses that exist specifically and exclusively to serve their clients and make money in the process seem to have forgotten the first part about the clients.
Just last week the CEO of United Airlines was quoted as saying "For far too long, we've operated this company as an airline: Airlines don't make money…" He said he wants his employees to view United as a business. "That means constantly looking at ways to do things smarter and less expensively." My reaction to that is um…no. In a service industry, customer facing employees should always be looking for ways to provide superior service, which creates return customers and increased loyalty and therefore repeat revenue. He and some others in the service industry seem to have forgotten how much harder it is to gain market share in a competitive space when you go out of your way NOT to please your customers. It’s not about maximizing the shareholder value in the short term, it’s about creating premium value through long term excellent performance. Or as Jack Welch said, “Any jerk can have short-term earnings. You squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, and the company sinks five years later.” (Amazingly United hasn’t had either earnings or superior service, so theirs must be a third kind of strategy that only maximizes compensation for management. They must think of the expression ‘customer service’ and use the definition of ‘service’ as in how the bull “services” the cow.)
What kind of a world would we live in if every business put the shareholder’s short-term interests in front of their customers’? I’m sure we can make the cars more cheaply – omit some of that protective frame safety nonsense. I’m sure we can process food less expensively. Who needs all that checking for disease silliness? I could go on and on here with analogies, but the point is that the only way for businesses to differentiate themselves to their customers is to treat their customers like they are valued and appreciated – indirectly by caring to do a good job, and directly by letting the customer feel appreciated and valued. Technology can offer many assists in this process – like having the customer’s history and preferences show up on a screen when they call in, or permitting the kind of collaboration around a project as in my medical case described above. These tools allow a service conscious professional to show real care – real customer service. Is some cases this may directly improve the firm’s bottom-line, but in others it improves intangibles – like productivity, or customer satisfaction. These improvements may not show up immediately in a CEO bonus or shareholder dividend, but they are evident in the satisfaction surveys of both employees and customers – and they build that premium value I mentioned.
Satisfaction makes a customer go back to a specific doctor or airline or any service oriented business. It even helps customers justify paying a premium price for that better experience. Collaboration technology leveraged to improve that service is well positioned to then improve the customer experience – as in really make the customer feel that the firm’s people went out of their way to make sure the needs were met. That combination will always win-out, regardless if we’re discussing doctors, airlines or store clerks.
So as I have my pain-in-the-neck surgically removed, I
urge all corporate boards of directors to work on having theirs removed
ASAP. If you need any collaboration
technology designed for you to assist the process just let me know, I’m not
going anywhere for a while…
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. David has over three decades of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He now works with Dimension Data as their Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at David.Danto@Dimensiondata.com or DDanto@imcca.org and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at Danto.info. Please reach-out to David if you would like to discuss how he can help your organization solve problems or develop a future-proof collaboration strategy.