Saturday, May 28, 2011

Graduating Customer

"Pheww" He said as he walked in the room. "This last module on Provider Research was something else", he walked as he flicked through his tablet. "I don't really understand, what's it you're doing" his father said. "I'm studying customership studies foundation. Well, my objective is to become a certified customer. I'm going to specialize in well-being" his father just continued to look in his archaic iPhone as he shook his head thinking what he heard was nonsense.

Moral of the Ser Fi:
Customership Studies is a branch of science that may develop one day as a result of the customers feeling highly empowered, integrated and expected to deeply contribute to service design, production .. etc. The studies will include best practices and knowledge on how to be the most effective and contributing to services you get involved in.  This may be another way of creating the match between the needs and the offering. The gap doesn't always have to be closed from the provider's side.
The common customer knowledge have been there for 1000s of years but more on the usage side, What we're addressing here is on contribution to the strategy, design and delivery.
At that point operations, strategy .. etc could be topics for study for customers but with a different lens.

A Lamp in The Room, A Smile on The Wall

This is her third day of trying to get that lamp she always wanted in her room. Doesn't look like any of the customers is helping her get there. Every customer, would lalk-in(1), see her wish, get served, and lalk out.
"Something must be wrong!" She thought. "How come everyone is getting their wishes fulfilled but not me".

She saw one of the colleagues that has been around for 2 days and seems to be doing fine. Her cafe is all working, people lalking in and out and her cafe is prospering. She touched the screen and the colleague turned to her with a smile. She asked her "As you see, I've been wanting a lamp here in this room for how long, no one is bothering to give me a rating that would help my recruiter think about giving it to me or even giving me few stars so I feel I'm half way through, Is anything wrong with me?", "Sorry, I've not been following, let's ask our group" the colleague suggested.
As the colleague got the concern announced, suggestions and remarks started to come through and land on her desk. They started to turn in color as voting on suggestions went on and she immediately knew the problem. "Your suggestions are not related to the customer's mood, you need to review the customer's activity for the last hour before you jump to a suggestion. What they tell you is not enough" The colleague concluded.

She wasn't that convinced, but thought to try. As the next customer lalked in, she reviewed his activity history as it showed next to his request as he spoke. He wanted to renew his in-house diagnosis service. She saw that he started to recently follow tougher exercising plans and offered him a sports package for trial. He was happy for the offer and for her recognizing him as a professional sports player. He immediately accepted, looked at her wish list, wished he could offer her the lamp but all he could do was to give her the 5 stars and then lalked out.

She immediately saw a half of her lamp in the room and saw her recruiter's picture on the wall smiling. The colleague smiled and her desk turned green with all her peers' votes. "mmmmm what a small lamp! I'm sure I can get the car I wanted in farm-ville when I was young. I think they have it here as well in "myUniverse", She enthusiastically thought as she received her next customer.

(1) lalk: new term used in the future which represent the mix of walk and log.

Moral of the Ser Fi:
Gaming is a big part of our life today. The new generation is even more into it. Utilizing games in the workplace could play a major role in evaluation and employee performance management.  It can make tasks more compelling, thrilling and enjoyable. The technology development will surely change the formula as we know it today.

The story is so futuristic that it envisions the employee herself living in the game, and is able to communicate with peers and boss through some interfaces. We have something here like our nowadays "farm-ville" implemented, but the employee is actually living the game not playing it. Customers are able to help or reward employees and do feed directly in the performance management system. Colleagues and communities are also helping in this type of evaluation. The story lightly refers to the fact that employee doesn't work in a specific organization but rather gets recruited on-demand and moves between organizations very frequently.