Efficiency at the Expense of Value

Efficiency at the Expense of Value


Efficiencies are great. In fact, I often spend time looking for ways to increase my productivity by cutting some things out. Automating emails and bill pays are one tactic I use. Other times, I simply stop doing an activity, like going to meetings that don’t have any benefit to me. But I should be careful when cutting things out. Yes, it will make me more efficient, but what else is getting cut in the process? Maybe in one of those “pointless” meetings, a conversation is started about a problem the business is having and I may have expertise in the area of the problem. If I’m not there, I am unable to give my insights and potentially move the business closer to a solution. Now, you can’t attend every meeting nor should you decline them all. What I’m suggesting is that you be mindful of the things you do decide to cut out.

Be especially careful when cutting something from the customer experience. If an airline cuts their first checked bag is free policy, customers would not be happy and the airline may lose business. Even if the customer is expected to be better off by the cut, you will want to press pause. Let’s say a company has a large call center to help customers with problems. The company decides to reduce the size of the call center and expand the FAQ section on their website based on research showing most incoming calls could be answered by a common response. Callers will be directed to check out the website for answers first. Costs are cut and customers can find answers more quickly. Everybody is happy right? Well now the customer has to call in, get an automated message saying to check out the FAQ’s on the website and go hunt for the answer on his/her own. If the answer is not found, the customer must call back in. With the reduced number of call center associates, wait times have increased and with it customer frustration.

Don’t think I’m advocating for never reducing costs, just that you’re mindful of the effects. I recommend you find the value in something before you cut it. This way you know what you’re cutting and can make a proper judgement if it should be cut or kept.

You can also ask these questions while pondering efficiencies.

  • What will the customer lose if I cut, stop or reduce this?
  • What will be lost if I automate a process?
  • Is there value in keeping a certain amount of inefficiency?