The Hierarchy of Horrors

My good friend, Shawn Veltman, introduced my to a concept that I had never heard of before – The Hierarchy of Horrors. It wasn’t until I did a little more reading that I learned what a simple and fantastic model this was.

We all deal with customer service. Every company will deal with unhappy customers at some point – it’s inevitable. The proverbial question is how do we do a better job, and reduce the number of customer service issues and unhappy customers?

One of the founding officers at FedEx, Michael Basch, suggested that one of the key components of FedEx’s success was with the development of a concept he called The Hierarchy of Horrors.

Sounds scary, right? It really isn’t…Actually, it was quite brilliant. Here’s what they did and why you need to do the same in your business.

FedEx Executives created a list of the eight WORST things that the company could screw up for their customers. For example: Missed pickups, damaged packages, lost packages., wrong delivery date/address etc…etc…

Each of those eight key areas was measured for a short while. For example, each time a package was lost or they missed a pickup, they ticked a box. If a customer called because a package was damaged, they ticked another box.

Then, they simply added everything up and ranked the eight key areas in numerical order. FedEx then systematically worked backwards from highest priority concerns to their lowest.

Now here’s the best part… Employees became more accountable. There was now a number that essentially, and more often than not, pointed towards very specific areas of the company (delivery drivers, or warehouse package handlers for example). Every employee had to significantly improve their quality of service and work together to reduce the horrors.

This was the FedEx Game Changer!

Consider your own Hierarchy of Horrors

Step 1: What are the 5-8 WORST things your company can screw up for your customers? Get your customer service department on board and have them suggest what they hear most often from customers. If you own a restaurant, this might include things like – food wasn’t properly cooked; waitstaff messed up the order; your hosts double-booked reservations…

Step 2: Measure these priorities over the next 30 days.

Step 3: Order your results from bad to worse.

Step 4: Now you’re equipped with a systematic roadmap for fixing parts of your business that need a little fixing!

Such a simple model, and yet one that could have such a dramatic impact on ANY organization.

Halloween is over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eliminate the horrors.