As customers, we are bowled over when a service provider (real or virtual) thinks quickly, anticipates our needs and lands a superb solution. If you are like me, I am doubly impressed when this provider is able to create solutions without the benefit of having a full body of background information. In other words, even though the available information would have been missing critical parts, the service provider would have summoned critical thinking skills to build an accurate picture of the existing scenario.
There is a popular story about an emergency 911 operator receiving a call from a woman who placed a request for a pizza. The operator’s first reaction was one of exasperation, since she was used to receiving prank calls. However, the woman sounded so earnest and was so insistent in stating her request for a pizza, that this provoked the operator’s intuition. The operator decided to stay on the line a little longer and began to ask deductive questions that uncovered an active domestic abuse scenario. Further investigation of the address given by the woman, allowed the operator to discover that previous reports of violence were associated with the location. Police officers were dispatched to the location and the suspect was arrested.
Cognitive diversity is the multiplicity of ways in which individuals think and process information.
This is a prime example of critical thinking when details are ambiguous, sketchy and incomplete. Of course, the operator was trained to navigate such scenarios, notwithstanding the fact that her first reaction was that of exasperation. She was only being human. The takeaway here is that in some situations, individuals, including service providers, display critical thinking skills, through what is called cognitive diversity.
Cognitive diversity is the multiplicity of ways in which individuals think and process information. It is a rich multi-layering of processes that allow situations, information and data to be interpreted in several ways. When embraced, cognitive diversity enables individuals to go beyond the narrow lenses through which they view the world and to embrace the breadth of possibilities associated with seeing situations from all angles.
As businesses become more friendly towards cognitive diversity, several benefits emerge within the customer encounter domain.
Can you imagine the huge value that cognitive diversity can deliver to teams that care to be open to leveraging its usefulness?
But even as we begin to consider the possibility of exploring the value of being open to different ways of thinking, it’s important to remember the overwhelming bias that favours neuro-typical thinking and behaviour (in accordance with socially-acceptable norms). Individuals who exhibit this style often are conferred with a badge of social acceptability, over their more neuro-divergent counterparts (who question and challenge the widely-accepted, normative standards), who are labelled as difficult and triggering.
Firstly, there is the potential for reduction in cognitive bias, enabling employees to become more tolerant of customer diversity.
Notwithstanding the prevalence of this neuro-typical modus operandi, businesses would do well to push past this bias and to promote the practices associated with cognitive diversity. As businesses become more friendly towards cognitive diversity, several benefits emerge within the customer encounter domain.
Firstly, there is the potential for reduction in cognitive bias, enabling employees to become more tolerant of customer diversity. There is incentive to desist from labelling customers as difficult, demanding and exasperating, in the pursuit of more harmonious customer interactions.
There is incentive to desist from labelling customers as difficult, demanding and exasperating, in the pursuit of more harmonious customer interactions.
Employees become more competent at viewing customer encounter situations from all angles and just like the operator, become adept at interrogating gaps in situational information. Agility in generating solutions is enhanced by this chain of events, expanding opportunities for achieving positive customer encounter ratings.
A significant benefit that accrues from this harmonization, is the shortening of customer journeys. Customers will be thrilled at the removal of some, if not all, of the frictions that occur typically, along the transaction journey.
Not to be forgotten, would be the obvious value of leveraging cognitive diversity amongst teams to maximize teamworking harmony and team execution. Given that one of the biggest challenges that businesses face is getting teams to operate efficiently and effectively, harnessing a teamworking model that supports the reduction of friction, will go a long way in driving team success.
Agility in generating solutions is enhanced by this chain of events, expanding opportunities for achieving positive customer encounter ratings.
There is no one magic bullet to achieving service excellence and customer happiness. There are several. Businesses should not surrender or falter in their quest to discovering and adopting applications that support the achievement of great customer outcomes.
In this quest for customer happiness, while it is judicious to embrace methodologies that promote great customer outcomes, expanding the net to include methodologies that generate employee and team wins as well, makes good business sense.
To this end, it’s always a good idea for a business to be willing to onboard practices that liberate and not suffocate, cognitive expansion.