Archive for January, 2005
In their latest book, Confronting Reality,
Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan explore the business discipline of seeing
reality – the essential truth of a situation â€“ when the news is bad.
In the opening, they tell of managers of a US Midwest-based
business who are moving the facts about in various combinations to
reveal everything but the essential truth â€“ that the operation must
relocate to China, and soon, to remain competitive.
Where do you stand on seeking the truth about your business â€“
especially when reality bites? Do you want to know reality regardless
of your personal stake or comfort, short-term? Or do you want to know
reality only to the extent that you feel comfortable to deal with it?
Once you see reality, do you take decisive action for the future
good of your organization and its stakeholders, or do you find ways to
put off the inevitable because, again, it is safer or more comfortable
We donâ€™t have a pat answer or a quick cure for business leaders
facing such moments of truth. In the choice between seeking reality and
seeking comfort, you are really examining your values â€“ that which you
act on even when it is easier to do nothing.
Business leaders who value truth seek reality about where they are!
The REAL SITUATION! AND they know their goal and outcomes! This level
of clarity inspires support from colleagues and employees, recruiting a
team for the hard work ahead.
Keep it real.
Anyone who has lost a loved one knows that while grieving can be filledÂ with sadness, it can also have blessed moments of silliness and ironyÂ that help us cope with the details of putting the deceasedâ€™s estate inÂ order despite our grief.
The company in this true story, like so many others, had attempted toÂ cut customer service costs by hiring cheap labor and keeping themÂ working at capacity while keeping quality high and retaining customersÂ through automation. But something went wrong for usâ€¦
Days after my father died, my 80-year-old mom and I were trying toÂ cancel his paid Internet fax service. The company, which we shall callÂ “iFaxForAFee”, provided no customer service phone number, so I helped her use the instant text message feature on the companyâ€™s website.
Here is the essence of the instant message session. As you read along,Â keep in mind that most of the repâ€™s responses were actually 3Â beautifully worded paragraphs long, appearing 5 seconds after I sent myÂ reply.
iFaxForAFeeâ€™s strategy had backfired in this instance. How could this have happened?
- By heavily scripting their responses to a cancellation request?
- By providing no latitude to override the script when called for?
- By keeping them so busy that they could not register and react to exceptional circumstances?
It was fortunate for Mom and me that we were in one of those silly fromÂ stress moments of good humor, and took in stride the impersonal
automation in the face of our recent loss. On the other hand, I reallyÂ wonder what the customer service person was going through, and howÂ often that demeaning scenario played itself out in his day.
The best customer service interactions and recoveries Iâ€™ve experiencedÂ always feature a person who took time to really understand what I was
going through, and was empowered by their company to do everything theyÂ could to make it right. THOSE are the companies Iâ€™ll give my loyaltyÂ and my money to.
As for iFaxForAFee and their scripted, outsourced, cost-effective customer service?
Perhaps Iâ€™ll consider them in the afterlife…
Â© 2005 Gary Ralston. all rights reserved
About the author: Gary Ralston founded RalstonÂ Consulting Inc. with his wife, Ann, to help accelerate business growthÂ for their clients â€“ from startups to global corporations â€“ across NorthÂ America. Based in Columbus, Ohio, Ann and Gary can be reached atÂ 877-724-4099, 614-761-1841, or through www.ralstonconsulting.com.