Striving for greatest efficiency in technology as a way to solve a problem is very trendy. The efficiency we all now recognize from technology all too often creates a perspective that everything we do needs to maximize efficiency. In the endless pursuit of efficiency it is easy to lose sight of whether or not the concept or effort is actually effective.

Effective would logically be defined as “does this take care of my Customer’s needs at the level it needs to for us to reinforce our brand message”. A multi-level phone tree does not always depict a Customer sensitive company, nor does 10 minutes on hold from the Company that claims to be all about the Customer. Getting a live person on the first pickup of your call sure does. Asking callers whether they are willing to answer a survey before they have even started a conversation with someone who can help them is not exactly customer sensitive. All of these real cases we experience regularly. When did the efficiency of “we can” get ahead of the fundamental “should we”?

Recently I was in a local Credit Union on a Saturday afternoon after not having success in the ATM outside with my network card. There inside the front door was a kiosk with a concierge just to answer my question (or anyone’s question) about the ATM, which she had of course heard before and directed me to a different machine that could take my transaction. I had never seen a person tasked to provide that service in a banking environment. Is it effective? Yes, very. Is it efficient? Only to the degree it solves problems faster yes. Did most of the large banks abandon it? You bet. Too staff intensive.

By all means make your processes as efficient as you possibly can. As you grow, that is an ongoing challenge. Always ask yourself whether the effort you are working to make more efficient will provide a better experience for whomever is doing the work or whomever the work is designed to take care of.

Keep your inefficiencies when they work for the Customer Experience you are working to provide. They may very well be the most invaluable part of your relationship with the customer.