Unintended consequences of strategy-practice disconnect

Sonja Blignaut’s presentation at the SAIIE Awards brought about a lot of takeaways for me, but this one really made me think about the disconnect between what we say in upper management, and what we make those at frontlines endure.

It’s trendy to say the customer is at the centre of all you do, but more often than not, the reward system at the frontline says otherwise. No better an example exists than with call-centre reps having targets of completing calls within 2.5 minutes.

If they get a particularly difficult customer who needs more time, they risk not hitting that KPI of call < 2.5 minutes. Now imagine yourself in the shoes of such a rep with this predicament.

On the one hand, your CEO publicly says the company values client-centricity. That would imply taking as much time to serve customers as they need.

On the other hand, you need to hit KPIs related to speed-of-service to get that bonus payment you really need. The irony is that such a KPI is a cascaded down take on a strategy from somewhere in upper mangement.

Which would you choose to act on?