Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Service Zombies Are Not World Class

Scripting, behavior standards, commitment statements, kick-off parties complete with balloons and confetti.  All of these help launch service excellence programs, but what sustains them?  How is it that well-intended organizations can spend so much time and money getting these initiatives off the ground and then lose momentum so quickly?

Trust Your People
One of the things I have discovered over the years is that organizations try to control just about everything. Key words at key times with key customers while always conforming to the company message.  That's all well and good except for one thing: employees are not zombies.  I spend a fair amount of time traveling with a youth hockey team, and it's fascinating to me how different corporate cultures can be when it comes to this issue.  Some organizations clearly do not allow their employees to say or do anything other than what "corporate" has decided is appropriate.  Others however, actually trust their employees to be creative, and engaging...and fun.  And it shows!!

It's the People That Matter
Do you believe that your well-crafted budget and slick marketing materials are what makes your organization world-class?  Really?  The reality is that your people make that happen.  That means we as leaders have one job -> create an environment where our teams know they are trusted to do the right thing.  Make sure they know we want them to use their creative approaches when working with our customers. At the end of the day it's the relationship, not the strategy, that truly sets us apart from the competition.

How About You
Do you thrive in a command and control culture?  Do you get a rush from making all of the decisions?  Do you think you make the difference in your organization?  Or, are there others on your team who actually make it happen on the front-line every day?  When was the last time you allowed them to be themselves?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of


  1. I loooooove blog posts about the undead, and this is no exception. "Organisations try to control everything" you say. Yeah - they try, and they fail. Control is an illusion.

    Creativity is the source. And lest we forget it brings disruption with it too. Most organisations crave creativity and punish mistakes, they don't get it - the two are inseparable. And for me it's the disruption which is really exciting. It's where the learning is.

    Jay - you have a fantastic way with words and I love the way you've articulated this stuff today, love it!

  2. I enjoyed this post Jay. I think a lot of organization are guilty of saying one thing and doing another. I know of a major cell phone service provider who tells their CSRs to always ask if there is anything else that they can do for thier customer. But if they are not off of the phone in 3 minutes a supervisor is standing over them in their cube.

    I to am guilty of this same misgiving too. We need to put the people first - but it is hard to let go of that control, especially for us old dogs. - Go Bolts!

  3. Doug - Thanks so much for the is greatly appreciated. Allowing for our employee's creative sides to flourish, and letting go of "control" is a powerful combination. Well said!

    Dave - I often wonder if the companies that espouse one approach but behave very differently realize that we all see through their propaganda? It's always our actions that speak so much louder than our press releases.

    BTW - I can't wait the the Conference Finals!