The unintended results of short term planning? As it relates to Customer Service? In the “macro” view, it is almost always disastrous in this context. Giving good service requires CONSTANT attention and emphasis to the topic of customer service. When companies think in the short term, customer service gets short shrift. It’s not part of the company’s culture-it’s a mere afterthought or platitude.

Want a specific? Let’s talk about product availability in the grocery business. Short term thinking (prevalent in larger, publicly traded companies) demands strict attention to keeping inventory levels at the lowest possible level-especially when that dreaded quarterly inventory comes around. So pressure is brought to bear on Store Managers and Department Heads to lower inventory to levels that will cause excessive (and maddening) out of stock conditions.

The short term result FOR THE COMPANY? Because inventory levels are temporarily low, profits look good. Shareholders are happy (for now).

The short term result FOR THE CUSTOMER? He/she must go to another store to find the product(s). He/ she is probably angry. He/ she is likely to buy more than that one product at the new store. And, since the new store HAD the product, he/ she is more likely to switch his/ her shopping pattern.

The long term result for the company? Likely a loss of a CURRENT customer. Since, to quote Dick Schaaf, “The best customer is the one you already have,” short term thinking and planning and policy are anathema to Customer Service. And very damaging to the long term BOTTOM LINE as well! And that will lead, in the long term, to dissatisfied shareholders.