07
Dec
09

It’s about delivering on your promise to your customer

Seems the recent full moon has been bringing out those annoying behaviors that drive leaders crazy. I’m talking about things like lateness, absenteeism, missing daily huddles, not following procedures, right up to the ever-present “it’s good enough/it’s not my job” mentality. Yes, it’s all that behavior stuff that ultimately leads to one dramatic and sad conclusion – breaking the company’s promise to the customer.

What’s this big promise I’m referring to? The answer is pretty simple. You promise quality, personal attention, reliability, consistency, fast resolutions to problems, going above and beyond, integrity, team service and so on. Your promise contains all of those lofty and inspiring experiences you want the company you lead to deliver in mass quantities to your customers.

I just did a No-Compromise Leadership speech for the American Society of Quality. The room was filled with individuals from some rather significant corporate entities that are all in some way responsible for ensuring their company’s promise of “quality” is upheld. To do so, they plan it, measure it, track it and tweak it with extremely sophisticated systems and processes. I asked the group this question: “What’s the one overriding variable that interferes with your promise of delivering quality?” They instantly responded, “People.” From that point forward, the conversation sounded like, “How many times do we need to tell them?” and, “What do you do when people just don’t care?” It doesn’t matter how big or small a company is, all leaders share the same challenges.

Is it good for the customer? That’s the question leaders need to ask themselves and every employee. When introducing a new procedure or system, a common reaction is, “How will this affect me?” It’s that inward and natural resistance to change. But when you make doing what’s best for the customer the focus of change, you’re saying, “This isn’t about you or me. This is about delivering on our promise to the customer. We need to do this. We need to make it work.” Is it good for the customer? That’s the question leaders must ask. Everything else is secondary.

To deliver on your promise to the customer, everyone in your company must be engaged and playing. Part of that engagement is connecting every employee’s performance and behavior to “the promise.” Lateness and absenteeism break the promise. Missing huddles break the promise. So does not following procedures and accepting “average” as good enough. You will never help an employee get into the game until he or she understands how individual behavior can create a tidal wave of inconsistencies that ultimately compromises customer experiences and loyalty. And a company can never achieve customer loyalty in the presence of broken promises.

Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.

Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO and author of No-Compromise Leadership

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