Path-ological alternatives

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Summary:
Sometimes, you have to follow a winding path to get where you need to go.

In my a previous post, titled A Customer Service Win-Win-Win-Win-Win, I described a shopping experience that could have resulted in frustration, but instead had a speedy, straightforward and altogether satisfying outcome.

In referring to my experience in his own blog, Roy Atkinson portrayed this type of experience in terms of straight paths and winding paths, a wonderfully visual way of thinking about such situations. As customers trying to get a problem resolved, we are often forced to follow a winding path, one filled with delays, obstacles and road blocks, instead of a customer-focused straight path from the problem to the resolution.

Of course, if you're hiking, skating, skiing, or biking, a winding path is much more appealing than a monotonous straight path. In activities such as these, twists and turns are part of the fun. But the windy, circuitous route is rarely what we want when we're customers.

Neither, of course, is it what your customers want. So do you make it as easy as possible for them to follow a straight path in the way you serve and support them? Or do you force them into U turns, detours, roundabouts, traffic jams, and nonstop lane changes? What are the twists and turns in your processes that add kinks to what might otherwise be a straight path?

To paraphrase Atkinson's final paragraph, if you don't create a straight enough path for your customers, they'll create their own straight path—by taking their business elsewhere. (Thanks, Roy!)

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