Welcome to Monday!
It's Monday. Mondays may not mean that much to you, but for the last ten years or so, I've been following the same routine every Monday - delivering a motivational message to get the week started off right. It started with a local distribution list of colleagues and business partners when I was working for AT&T Wireless in Chicago. The ground rules were simple. First, if you don't want my message showing up in your Inbox, just let me know and I'll take you off my distribution list. Second, I promise to stay away from two topics - politics and religion. Easy. In the early days, my distribution list expanded and contracted quite a bit. Some folks appreciated the notes, but just didn't want the extra e-mail. Some folks didn't appreciate the notes. Some folks left the organization, so they got deleted. Some folks forwarded my notes to others who, in turn, reached out to me directly to get on my list. Sometimes I'd get notes from random people asking to be put on my list because their sister's cousin-in-law from her fourth marriage got this note and...you get the point. Anyway, it's always amazed me how something so simple and easy (on my part) can impact others. Over the years, I've been encouraged by some of the notes I've received, letting me know that the message I sent out was just what they needed to hear that day. Better yet, if a few weeks have passed and a weekly message has not gone out (I do take vacations every now and then), I might get someone checking in on me and asking me about my weekly message and if everything is okay. That's pretty cool. So, when I started this blog last week, I thought it would only make sense to dedicate one blog post a week to my weekly motivational message (sort of kills two birds with one stone). By the way, these quotes are completely random. I get them from various sources (books, movies, Internet, kitchen of a Pizza Hut restaurant, etc.) at very random times. I don't subscribe to one of those daily e-mail deals, as that seems to automated and "cold" to me. This space (my blog) gives me an opportunity to share my weekly message and then drill down a bit more, sharing some of my own thoughts. That being said, here we go.
So, I took this shot a few years ago when I was a field HR guy, working for Pizza Hut. This was posted on top of one of the proofing ovens in the back of a restaurant. I have no idea who the quote is attributed to (nice way to start of my weekly motivational message via blog post, right?) but I love the quote and felt compelled to share it. What should be done about those pesky customers? I mean really...who do they think they are coming into my place of work and bothering me, asking me to do something for them?! I'm not sure when the wheels started coming off the track here, but it seems like we've (collectively) lost sight of the customer these days, particularly in the service industry. So, it was refreshing to read this piece last week on Jeff Bezos and his leadership style. There were three points that jumped out at me:
2.“Obsess over customers.” Early on Bezos brought an empty chair into meetings so lieutenants would be forced to think about the crucial participant who wasn’t in the room: the customer. Now that surrogate’s role is played by specially trained employees, dubbed “Customer Experience Bar Raisers.” When they frown, vice presidents tremble.
5. “Determine what your customers need, and work backwards.” Specs for Amazon’s big new projects such as its Kindle tablets and e-book readers have been defined by customers’ desires rather than engineers’ tastes. If customers don’t want something it’s gone, even if that means breaking apart a once powerful department.
9. “Everyone has to be able to work in a call center.” Complaints can be devastating in the age of viral tweets and blogs. Bezos asks thousands of Amazon managers, including himself, to attend two days of call-center training each year. The payoff: humility and empathy for the customer.
Can I get an amen up in here?! Now THAT is a customer service mindset! I don't know Jeff Bezos and I've never worked for Amazon, so I can't tell you if he really walks the talk on this this stuff or not. However, there are some nuggets in here for all of us, regardless of title, industry, position, tenure, etc. Can you imagine a meeting with an empty chair representing the customer? How would that fly in your workplace? Have you ever worked in a call center? I have and let me tell you, it ain't easy. I found a whole new appreciation for the employees taking calls from our customers day in and day out. Consider this...when is the last time you called Customer Service just to find out how their day's going or pay them a compliment? We've all got customers. External customers, internal customers, prospective customers, former customers. Customers are everywhere. Let's use our mad people skills to take care of them and thank them for what they are, the lifeline of our businesses.