Holacracy Community of Practice Archive, 2015-2019 Community Holacracy Web Site

Holacracy and Customer Experience

A recent experience as a customer of a company that has adopted Holacracy, the name of which I'll hold back to spare their blushes, led me to reflect on the experience. The insights and issues arising may be of common interest to some members of our community of practice.

I experienced a customer service problem that required a number of roles within the company to collaborate to effect a fix.

The roles were exposed to me as a customer and I did the job of joining them up initially until someone finally to took individual responsibility to resolve my problem, which is what I would have expected in the first place.

These are my consequential reflections:

1. As a customer, I don't care nor should it be my concern how a provider is organised. What I want is for someone to "own" my issue and get it fixed quickly and with as little time and attention from me as is needed, otherwise I am being treated as a free resource, which is not OK. Above all, it's wasteful both for the provider and for me as the customer.

2. This implies that as a customer what I want is a "soul" (someone to have a relationship with) and apart from knowing in which part of organisation someone works, i.e. technical support, finance etc. there my interest ends.

3. I've picked up from another thread that Holacracy is not naturally suited to supporting workflow and that's what this specific customer experience confirmed. This reflection though may be exaggerated and all that the company in question needs is a help desk backed up with software so that a case can be raised and a case owner within the company assigned.

I'd be interested if others have had similar experiences and whether this a common enough pattern that it requires some kind of revision to Holacracy itself or at the least dealt with as an issue within one or more of the trainings.

3 Replies
Daniel Sigrist

Hi Andrew

I share your perspective that it is best if a costumer doesn't really realize or need to know that a company is organized with Holacracy. Or if so, only in a way of "wow, these guys really seem to have much clarity and know their stuff" or "I was surprised that I got help that quickly - obviously this guy could make the decisions needed here all themselves and that was amazing". 

I fill several roles in a department (30 people) which is run with Holacracy inside of a big organization not using Holacracy (18'000 people) and since we have only internal customers, I think there is a similar pattern at play here: The others (our customers) shouldn't be bothered with wether we do Holacracy or not but just be happy with our services. The way we try to achieve that is in creating a role which takes care of the relationship to our customers and acts like a single-point-of-contact. In my experience, this works really well and I would never bother the customer with stuff like "uuh sorry, this is not my role" or "ahh ok, I will bring that up in a Governance Meeting and process the tension". I just tell him that I will take care and get some help from other people if needed.

So I think that it doesn't depend on Holacracy itself whether a company is customer-oriented or not but rather on the way Holacracy is implemented and used to structure the work. And I think the same about Holacracy supporting workflows.




Great topic. I agree with Daniel's comments and have struggled a little bit with this in providing good customer service especially where an escalation is involved, however, we've been able to successfully modify our processes and practices within Holacracy.

Just curious, how long has Company X been practicing Holacracy? Did your customer experience with an issue or escalation change between before and after Holacracy? If so, would it be correct to assume that the typical path for a customer escalation would quickly get into a manager's hands who would own and resolve it?  If there's now a gap in a process such as a customer escalation, then I should think it would need to get resolved in Governance via a Role, Accountability, or Policy, et cetera.

Also, I agree with your comments as a Customer, that you want to connect with the soul and the rest of company should be somewhat transparent, i.e., how they're organized or resolve your tensions or issues should remain backstage, so to speak, and you just experience the magic upfront.

Andrew Scott

Thanks Daniel and Darren - really appreciate you sharing your experience.

If I say more about the organisation, it'll become clear who they are.

One thing I picked up from Lean Thinking, is that you put your best people on first line support. Most organisations put junior staff on the front line, whilst the best organisations don't.

Front line support is great for customer insight and if done well enables organisations to much better sense and respond to their external environment.