A passion for the simplicity beyond complexity


When I pick up the phone to call my bank, or telephone provider or insurer nowadays, I expect to have to work hard.  Four buttons to select from, then another five, then another four, then a recorded message.  Try again.  Four buttons, five buttons, then press a different button…”I’m sorry, we are experiencing an exceptionally high volume of calls.  You may be able to resolve your query by visiting our website at xyz.co.uk” (No, I tried that, that’s why I’m calling).

Then wait (cue Vivaldi Four Seasons, or if you’re really unlucky Toploader).  Then, a disembodied voice requests: “please continue to hold” and tells me “your call is important to us”.  (If my call is so important why doesn’t the company employ enough staff to answer it).  The wait continues then after a few minutes ‘click’ and silence.

Connect - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Repeat steps above.  Sometimes I may be told that I’m eighth in line to be served so I then go through a quick mental calculation (Size of organisation I’m phoning, assumption of number of call handlers, assumption around average call duration, calculation of wait time.)  I decide to wait. Eventually I get to ‘you are next in line to be served’.  The anticipation builds…and builds…and builds.  It’s now that I realise that I am behind the telephonic equivalent of the person in the supermarket queue who can’t find their purse, or whose credit card has been rejected.  Then “Good evening, thank you for calling, you are speaking to [unrecogniseable, unpronounceable name], how may I help you?”

“My name is Simon Daisley.  I wonder if you can help.  My XYZ isn’t working.”

“No problem. May I call you Simon?”  I’m so relieved to be talking to a human being that he could call me Fiona and I wouldn’t mind.

However, the meter is now running, I have probably 4 minutes 30 seconds or so of undivided attention before my new found friend will be distracted by the prospect of punishment and public humiliation for his average call handling time.

If I actually manage to get a satisfactory resolution I am genuinely delighted.  And surprised.  What a sad indictment of the customer experience provided by our greatest organistions.

Interestingly, if I challenge management within these organisations, many of them say that they benchmark their service against best practice in their industry.  Big deal.  Congratulations on being as rubbish as everyone else.

Some, however, acknowledge that things need to change and are starting to appreciate the value of ‘making it easier’ for their customers.  Harvard Business School published research last August which proved that the less effort required by customers to buy or receive service, the greater is the customer’s propensity to buy, repeatedly.

This may sound like a statement of the bleeding obvious, but as Groucho Marx once said, “The thing about common sense is that it isn’t so common.”

In a world of infinite complexity, it is so refreshing to see organisations genuinely trying to embrace simplicity as a means of differentiating their service proposition.

I wish them well.  To those companies that aren’t, I probably won’t be waiting to press buttons at the end of the call indicating my level of satisfaction.


Simon Daisley - Blue Sky Performance Improvement


Blue Sky Performance Improvement


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