It’s no secret that customer service departments, like all others, are asked to do more with less.  The secret (shhh), is companies that do a few things with focus are better able to satisfy their customers than companies that do many things with mediocrity.  On the other hand, Google who recently launched their Nexus One phone, proved something entirely different; if you fail to do something important (in this case, customer service) you satisfy absolutely no one.A recent study of cell phones and driver distraction conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute indicated that texting while driving, increases the likelihood of a collision by over twenty (20) times.  Our hubris is so great that we still think we are the exception.  We believe we are uniquely able to drive, talk, drink coffee, change lanes, etc.  Yet our confidence plummets while our NYC cab driver texts while driving to our next destination?  Now we might want a little more focus, a little less multi-tasking.

This same premise applies to organizations.  When studies show one person has a limited capacity to multi-task what makes us think that hundreds of people are capable of doing so?  It must be hubris talking again.  It is absurd to think we can successfully engage many individuals in simultaneous multi-tasking when we can’t get one to do so.  At some point the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

Companies who hope for the greatest gains must de-prioritize as aggressively as they prioritize.  They must choose the most impactful/profitable projects at the expense of other projects.  In short, they must choose to either drive or text.

The pivot point is that people (and organizations) can adapt to a limited amount of change.    This year, when you’re deciding to implement a new CRM technology, institute a new process to handle customer complaints, or even rolling out a revolutionary new cell phone, focus on doing a few things and resolve do them well.  Doubt this will work?  Consider the alternative.  Better yet, ask Nexus One customers if they wish Google had focused just a bit more on customer service.

  • Justin Stoddart

    Linked to your blog from the HBR site. I enjoyed your comment there as well as the good additional thinking in this post. Look forward to learning more.

    • andy_mcf

      Justin, glad you found the site. Let me know any “topics of interest”.

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