Three Legged Stool

I normally don’t like the metaphors that a lot of consultants use, but one I read about and have liked is the three-legged stool. The three-legged stool is an important way to measure satisfaction and it covers everything. First of all, the three legs of the stool are:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Business results

The three items of the three-legged stool measure all elements of satisfaction. If every item of the three-legged stool is met, chances are that everyone is happy. I’ve thought of a lot situations and if customers and employees are happy and business results are being met, no one really has any grounds for complaining.

The thing is, though, that if any leg of the stool is missing or too short – chances are it’ll fall down or be uneven. If customers aren’t happy, business results will likely be bad. If employees aren’t happy, they won’t be nice to customers. If the company isn’t making any money, it’s not effective and costs will have likely have to be cut.

Again, this isn’t a business management blog – it’s a blog about customer service and the customer service experience. The question is how does the three-legged stool tie into customer service and the customer service experience?

Customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction is something that every customer service department should constantly measure. It’s critical, because ultimately, the customer’s satisfaction is the ultimate goal since it’s their money being used to pay the employees and fuel business results. Good customer service departments (and representatives) care a lot about customer satisfaction. You should use customer satisfaction ratings to measure how effective your employees are.

Employee satisfaction.
If employees aren’t happy, it’s unlikely they’ll be motivated to provide great service to your customers. If employees aren’t happy, they won’t go the extra mile (or the extra 3 feet), and will look at the money involved with the job. If the job doesn’t pay well and employees aren’t happy, good luck with keeping your current employees. Recruiting, hiring, training, and if necessary, firing employees is an expensive process, so try and keep your employees happy.

Business results.

Business results are likely why the customer service department is even there. Business results shouldn’t really be the main responsibility or primary motivator of the customer service department, but they should always keep it in mind. If the money isn’t coming in, people aren’t getting paid.

That’s how the three-legged stool ties into customer service and the customer service experience. Happy customers, likely happy employees, likely good business results. It’s an interesting way to manage your business’s overall success – managers or departments who have high ratings of customer and employee satisfaction, plus good business results are doing a great job. Managers or departments that are lacking in one or more areas need to work a bit harder.

I’m positive there’ll be more about the three-legged stool in the future. Tomorrow’s post will be about employee-manager conflicts.

P.S. I might (no promises) take a day off this week, since I noticed a lot of regularly updated blogs (i. e. Lifehacker) didn’t post on Monday and I did. (Great example of going the extra mile, right?)

2 Responses to “Three Legged Stool”

  1. Service Untitled » The Ten Commandments of Great Customer Service (1-3) said:

    Oct 11, 06 at 4:35 pm

    […] Know who is boss. This point is obvious. Where is your money coming from? Your customers! Customer service is customer service to and for customers. If you don’t know this, you need to re-examine your entire company. Remember the stool – it is very important. […]

  2. Service Untitled » Who’s accountable? - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    May 25, 07 at 6:33 am

    […] Sounds like the three legged stool, eh? Actually, this suggestion is all about accountability. If there are a few buzz words that make for good customer service, accountability is definitely one of them (along with empathy, resolution, etc.). […]