Perfecting Service Management

Issue #62

Tuesday, January 19, 2005

Becoming Customer Centric - Mystery Shopping
by Craig Bailey

We continue our series on leveraging the Voice of the Customer as a key element to becoming customer centric with a discussion of the final aspect within the step of "obtaining the pulse of the customer": Mystery Shopping.

Mystery Shopping essentially involves walking in the shoes of the customer by interacting with your firm to obtain the experience of the customer first-hand. Activities that could be considered include:

  • Contacting the customer service center (online & offline)
  • Purchasing a product or service (online & offline)

The goal of the above is to assess the experience from the customer's perspective. As such, it is important to perform the above (or other mystery shopping) activities numerous times with the goal of obtaining a representative sampling of the breadth of experiences a customer may have. In addition, performing these activities may require representing various customer segments. Mystery shopping activities should be performed during various times of the day (and/or night, if a 24x7 offering) to determine if a consistent customer experience is being delivered.

This activity can be formal or informal, depending on the nature and complexity of the firm. On a more formal basis it may make sense to predefine a set of attributes that should be assessed in this exercise. The following table outlines examples of what could be measured for each of the two mystery shopping items above.


Mystery shopping offers empathetic insight into how the customer may perceive doing business with your firm. Note that this exercise can also be effective to perform with competitors as part of a competitive/market research exercise. By doing so, a comparison can take place between your firm and others in the marketplace.

It should go without saying that mystery shopping activities need to occur in such a way that the customer-facing personnel of your firm are unaware. Otherwise, you may not obtain the true experience of the customer.

In our next edition we will present approaches for "involving the customer" on our way to sharing practical approaches to taking proactive and responsive action.

View previous articles in this series.

Supply Chain Synchronization - Service Matrix
by Peter E. Ventola

This is the second article of a two-part series on using customer segmentation and product prioritization to manage your supply chain. In the previous article, I discussed the importance of prioritizing both customers and products, and provided some ideas to help with this prioritization process. In this issue, I present a Service Matrix to demonstrate how you can utilize your customer segmentation and product prioritization to manage your service capacity.

Segmenting Service by Customer and Product Priorities
Once you have done the work to prioritize customers and products, it is important to use this information to segment your service capacity.

For example, you should not provide premiere service to everyone, unless you have unlimited capacity. Using the matrix, you can see that premiere service should be focused on the upper left quadrant (highest priority products for Franchise customers). Being clear about your service segments will lead to improved commitments. The matrix can also be used to drive rules focusing functions on the franchise customers, including:

Order acceptance lead time
Inventory targets
Manufacturing master and detail scheduling

The trick is to find the rules that help your business establish a comfortable manufacturing rhythm while supporting the appropriate customer commitments; these commitments will be driven by your customer/product matrix.

Handling Exceptions
It is also important to realize that situations will arise where your matrix and rules may put business in jeopardy. After all, customers change in size and scope, so occasional retuning is necessary. I suggest providing some flexibility in the way of an exception handling process. Exceptions must be recorded and reviewed as part of the sales and operations process. In this way, you can be sure that the proper business is protected and any customer reprioritization can be reviewed as needed.

Aligning your products, customers and business functions will allow you to stay focused on the appropriate priorities, allowing your business to run smoothly, without disruptions in the supply chain.

View previous articles in this series.

+ Becoming Customer Centric
+ Recommended Reading
+ Supply Chain Synchronization


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Recommended Reading
This week's recommended reading, 2005: The Year of Growing Carefully by Allan E. Alter, comes from CIO Insight. Editors at CIO Insight analyzed results from 13 online surveys they conducted throughout 2004 to uncover the trends and strategies that will shape the CIO's world in 2005 and beyond. This article presents some of the highlights from the full report. The full report is available for purchase from Ziff Davis.

VoC Presentation Available
for Download

Material from Craig Bailey's presentation at the 7th Annual Voice of the Customer Conference in San Francisco is available on the Customer Centricity website. Click here to download the presentation.


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We strengthen overall company performance through better service delivery and management.

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In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

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