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January 7, 2013

The Black Hole of Service

Ann Padley on Service DesignRecently I went out to a restaurant with a large group of friends. We had a great time and a fine service experience until the bill came and the simple question, ‘How would you like the check?’ turned into mass chaos.

The situation was almost under control until the waitress came back to the table, stating that ‘the system’ couldn’t handle splitting a check in that many directions (we all had credit cards, no one carries cash anymore!) She was going to have to start over.

The first credit card was invented in 1950. That means for the last 63 years people have been having this same exact experience. And, restaurants that have not developed a strategy for managing this service challenge are sacrificing their last interaction with the customer to a faulty system. I consider such interactions the black hole of service.

The black hole of service: No matter how great the food is or how impeccably trained the staff is, if you can’t manage a fundamental task – such as accepting payment for your product/services – consumer confidence plummets.

What are the black holes within your organization that need attention? How can you redesign your services to provide a consistent experience that will keep customers coming back?

Here are a couple infographics I’ve been collecting to provide some insight:

(And now for my shameless plug.)

For many companies the black hole of service is difficult, although not impossible, to identify on your own. I’m here to help. Blue Door Consulting is kicking off a new approach to identifying the ‘black holes’ (the grey and off-white ones, too) in organizations; it is called service design thinking and we are all in. Our goal is to help you identify areas for improvement and explore the limitless solutions available to help you connect with your customers and create outstanding experiences. The result: A happier workplace, more satisfied customers and improved profits.