The keywords here are do whatever it takes. Doing whatever it takes to satisfy the customer can be a difficult bridge to cross on the road to delivering what Tom Peters calls WOW! Service. Doing whatever it takes to satisfy the customer is a mindset and should be ingrained in the mind and heart of every employee. What it does is it helps create the mindset that says, look, we’re here for the customer. This mental conditioning is very important because it allows people in the company to see everything from what Peter Drucker calls the “outside-in” perspective: from the customer’s point of view. Staff in this mental mode can work wonders. For this to happen, management, the inclusive board of directors, must create the enabling environment that says that focusing on the customer is okay. Management must empower people with information and remove all bureaucratic bottlenecks to allow people to lean back to satisfy the customer.
In the book The Pursuit of WOW! Tom Peters did what he said had not been done before in publishing history by having images of his service heroes and heroines printed in the book. One such image was of Virginia Azuela, a housekeeper on the 54th floor of the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco. The problem with the story was that Ms. Azuela had the authority to spend up to $ 2,000 ($ 2,000 in 1994 money) to fix any customer’s problem without further authorization from above. Ms. Azuela is indirectly the executive director of the 54th floor of the Ritz Carlton. That’s what empowerment is made of to do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer. It’s no wonder the Ritz Carlton was the first service company to win the coveted Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award.
It doesn’t matter if you work in the private sector or the public sector, you can do wonders for the client if you are genuinely interested in the client. If you believe that working in a government ministry or agency is a catastrophic impediment to providing excellent service, you are making a big mistake. In his book The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary, Mark Sanborn offers a compelling account of Fred Shea, a US Postal Service staff member, who was responsible for deliver postal mail in the Denver area. called Washington Park. ” Let’s face it, ” wrote John Maxwell, author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, in The Fred Factor’s foreword, Postal Service, Can You Serve Your Customers With Exceptional Service And Commitment, What Opportunities Await You And myself to help others and, in the process, achieve deeper personal satisfaction. ” Fred’s story began when Mark Sanborn, a professional speaker, moved to Denver. Mark recounted that Fred came to introduce himself, meet and welcome him to the area. Since he had not come across a postman who was so proud and passionate about his work, Mark was naturally in awe. Learning that Mark was a professional speaker who traveled quite frequently, Fred quickly suggested that in that case he would save Mark’s emails until he was sure Mark was home before delivering them. Somewhat puzzled, Mark did not want to make the man uncomfortable and indicated that it was not really necessary, that Fred should leave the emails in the mailbox. Fred wouldn’t accept any of that. He informed Mark that he could become the victim of a robbery, since the mail accumulating in a box could indicate to thieves that the occupant of the house was not at home. To break the deadlock, Fred suggested that he would put the mail in the box whenever it was closed, and put the rest between the front door and the front door whenever the place was not congested with mail. Any mail that couldn’t fit, Fred suggested that he hold it until Mark returned. That way no one would notice the emails. Mark concluded: “I began to use my experiences with Fred as illustrations in speeches and seminars that I presented in the United States.” Regardless of the industry they came from, everyone wanted to hear about Fred, the author said.
What an amazing story! Fred has inspired thousands of people across America, including teachers, nurses, ambulance drivers, and the like. I couldn’t help but reflect deeply after reading the inspiring book for the first time. Compare Fred’s attitude to my personal experience with a post office that I had to do business with a few years ago. On a trip to Canada in August 2008 to attend the Toastmasters Annual International Convention in Calgary, I ordered some CDs from Maximum Advantage. I was promised a four week lead time before delivery, but I still hadn’t received the CDs in October, so I emailed the CEO, who personally took my order. There was a flood of emails and in one of the last emails the company wrote: “We will go to the post office here and see if there are any attempts to initiate a tracking of this package using the customs code.” Please keep me posted via email as we will resolve this issue in any way you wish. ” Right on target – do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer. To cut a long story short, when my wife sneaked past the local post office, the package was found gathering dust. The lady on duty said casually “the owner had not come to look for him.” No apology was made. I received the package about 61 days after it was shipped. He was with the postal agency for 58 days gathering dust.
I remember visiting a large publishing house a few years ago while thinking about writing my first book and when I arrived it was raining and no one offered me an umbrella. The people at the gate verified my identity and handed me the visit log to complete and wished me good luck as I prepared for the rain, from the front door to the main office, about twenty yards away. Is the umbrella important during a rain storm? Should a business have one for its customers and visitors? What is the role of the people at the door in welcoming visitors to the company? If you were at home and saw a visitor in the rain, wouldn’t you run out to greet her with an umbrella? So what is different?
I was delighted and excited when I read in the March 2010 issue of T + D magazine that if you go to Chicafil when it rains, someone will run and find you with an umbrella. Dan T. Cathy, CEO of Chickafil spoke of that with pride. Most of the banks I know do the umbrella thing, but there is no consistency. Sometimes it is just a favor of the doorman or security guard and is not closely monitored as an integral part of the service strategy. When a company and its people develop the mindset to do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer, things start to happen. People start to see small things like rain as important, the umbrella becomes important, answering emails becomes important, being polite becomes important, being polite on the phone becomes important, everything becomes important, the customer becomes important , not just in the printed mission statement that hangs on the wall or in the annual report. The customer becomes the center of the universe of the company. Doing whatever it takes to satisfy the customer must be ingrained in the hearts and minds of company staff as an integral part of the service experience; otherwise the staff will be indifferent about it, as I witnessed at a three-star hotel in Lagos in February. 14, 2011, Valentine’s Day. There was a downpour and the guests were drenched and there were no umbrellas in sight.