Great customer service is elegant design

When I started my career I was a programmer, so I learned how to design the inner workings of software. With the rise of the GUIs in the mid-80s I learned how to design better user interfaces, so I became a usability designer. Then I decided to start my own company, and that led to some skills at designing a company and the culture within. Perhaps most importantly of all I became an addict a fan of Walt Disney World, and that taught me about designing the customer experience.  Each of these skills has one thing in common:  the design is about making the user or customer happy and successful.

“Elegant design” is a phrase we use frequently in engineering and software design; an elegant design is one that beautifully captures the customer or user’s mindset while quietly helping that person achieve his or her goals.Truly exceptional customer service requires an elegant design:

  • Great customer service is intentional
  • Great customer service is proactive
  • Great customer service focuses on a happy user experience, not cost control
  • Great customer service isn’t about assigning blame or punishing mistakes
  • Great customer service uses technology to enable the customer, not manage the customer

Most importantly, designing a great customer experience requires that the designer achieve the customer’s goals, not the goals of the organization providing the experience.  Good organizations understand the customer’s goals, truly great organizations anticipate and satisfy the goals that the customer may not even know that he or she has.

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