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Make Automation Easy to Turn Off . . . Rather Than a Customer Turnoff

Mar 17, 2008
An assembly line moves a vehicle along at a steady pace. The speed is set to reflect a trade-off between having enough or not enough time to add each part. But naturally, things can go wrong. A tool can break. Parts may be defective. The inventory bin may be empty. What do you do then?

Well, it is possible to stop the assembly line, but the manufacturer doesn't want that to happen very often. To avoid that stoppage, hundreds of supervisors and "expeditors" try to anticipate and quickly correct those problems. A 5-minute delay in the assembly line could cost thousands of dollars in reduced production. Awareness of those economics can lead to letting flaws go through rather than incur the obvious, immediate cost of halting the line.

Contrast assembly lines with processes where a momentary delay doesn't affect any other aspect of the process. In these other systems you can take an extra moment to get another tool or a missing part, or to ask a question. Naturally, such processes make it easier to produce an item that has fewer flaws.

When you produce items that won't require as many repairs after they are purchased, you decrease customer service and warranty costs. If customers are more pleased because they have fewer problems, sales increase and profits are higher.

Ordering online often presents some of the same challenges as an assembly line does for a worker who has a problem. Here's a typical problem: As a customer, you can't find what you're looking for. You've checked the site map. You've gone to the help list and queried. You've read the FAQs (frequently asked questions). And still nothing makes sense.

Just before you give up, you fondly wish you could talk to a kind and knowledgeable person. At some Web sites, however, the motto for the customer seems to be "Type or Perish" (an uninspiring contrast to New Hampshire's motto, "Live Free or Die").

At other Web sites, you will find a toll-free number you can call. Taking that choice, however, can bog you down in an endless list of menus. In frustration, many will give up before finding what they are seeking. But if that toll-free number lets you easily reach a helpful person, you feel a sense of relief and your desire to purchase strengthens.

Such an approach to helping you is still highly automated, but a customer feels happier because it's possible to cut through the automatic response logjam of unhelpful information. A new thought enters your mind: Perhaps the offering provider really does want to help! Ah, wouldn't that be nice?

How can you make it easy for current and potential customers to turn off you automation?
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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