Archive for the 'Customer Loyalty' Category


No-Compromise Leadership Choices Drive Consistency

consistencyNo-compromise leadership = Consistency across all four business outcomes (Productivity, Profitability, Staff Retention and Customer Loyalty). It’s such a simple equation. Yet, within its simplicity is a profound message to all who lead, or seek to lead others. The rich word for me here is consistency. Consistency is perhaps the most challenging aspect of no-compromise leadership to comprehend and live because how one leads is influenced by the leader’s collective abilities, beliefs, behavior styles, perceptions and life experiences.

How long your voyage to no-compromise leadership will take depends on current behavior patterns. Some people are natural achievers while others are procrastinators. There are those who obsess over every minor detail in their quest for perfection. In leadership positions they can bog things down by micro-managing everything. At the other end of the spectrum are those who hate the details and do all they can to avoid them. In leadership positions, they can wreak havoc by communicating in such broad brush stokes that the outcomes they desire are vague and open to broad interpretation … if achieved at all. For a company’s performance and culture to be consistent, its leader must be a model of consistency. This is non-negotiable. It is one’s commitment and ability to be consistent that defines the no-compromise leader.

No-compromise thinking is like an internal compass that guides your leadership behavior in the right direction. No matter which direction you face, it points toward leadership consistency.

By connecting “consistency” to the four business outcomes, it defines a leadership mission of the highest order. Consider the equation as the first line of your job description. Now, take it a step further and consider it the first line of any job description in your company. What would the performance of your company look like if everyone were held accountable for creating and maintaining consistency across the four business outcomes?

So, what does living no-compromise leadership look and feel like? I would have to say it’s the sum of all no-compromise moments, choices, actions, communications and decisions. Given this, how does a leader seeking to practice no-compromise leadership behave? No-compromise leadership is more than just a philosophy or cool business battle cry. It’s stepping outside your comfort zone, looking within for possible motivators and blind spots, and analyzing why a certain decision, course of action, or behavior is chosen. Something as simple as how you conduct your day-to-day time management of what you intend to do, versus what actually gets done, contains a whole host of no-compromise moments and chosen behaviors ranging from high achievement to total procrastination.

Consider the following situations:

  • You’re in your office working on a project with a deadline that impacts the entire company. A team member enters with a pressing issue he wants to discuss. How do you determine the right no-compromise leadership choice in this situation? How do you process the situation to make the best no-compromise decision? Is it a compromise if you stop working on that critical project to address another seemingly pressing issue? Is it a compromise to turn the team member away? The no-compromise leadership way would be to say, “I want to give my undivided attention to your issue. Can we meet at 8:00am tomorrow morning?”
  • You discover that one of your managers has been fudging some reports. It’s the 26th of the month and the team really wants to hit goal. A serious bonus payout is on the line. What would the no-compromise leader do in this situation? A decision to compromise and accept the fudged numbers opens up serious issues of integrity, trust and the consequences that go with that decision. The no-compromise decision to expose the fudged reports is the right decision, even if the consequences are unpleasant.
  • A high school principal witnesses a star football player skipping school the day before the big game. Knowing that any disciplinary action would have tremendous impact on the team, the school and the popularity of this leader – what would the no-compromise leader do? He must do as Coach Carter did at Richmond High School when his basketball players failed to uphold their signed contracts to attend class and maintain grades. Carter banned all basketball activities. The no-compromise principal must take disciplinary action – even if it means losing the big game.
  • A doctor makes a decision to write a prescription for a patient, influenced heavily by the kickback from the drug company and not the needs of the patient. Was the doctor following his internal no-compromise compass? Clearly not. The doctor had the opportunity to make the right choice, but a decision to compromise was made instead. If this doctor is the leader of the medical practice, his decision to compromise for a monetary kickback set a new acceptable behavior pattern for all to follow. He contaminated his company’s culture.
  • A waitress in a restaurant decides to pocket a $10 bill from a customer, in a business that pools tips, because the customer was very demanding and difficult. The waitress felt “entitled” to take the money, but her entitlement thinking guided her into making a decision that compromised one of the core teamwork policies of the restaurant. Her chosen behavior shifted from “we, us, team, the company,” to, “I/me.” The decision took no more than a nano-second to make, but the contamination to the team culture created a breech of trust that will linger for a long time.

The antonym of consistency is inconsistency. From a leadership standpoint, the quest for either begins with a choice. To incorporate No-Compromise Leadership into your daily leadership life, you have to make a choice between no-compromise and compromise – between striving for consistency or allowing and accepting inconsistency.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click below to comment.

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They will appreciate it.


Customer Service Is All About Sense of Urgency

do_it_nowSense of urgency takes on new meaning and purpose when discussing the Customer Satisfaction Business Outcome. Think about the times you walked into a business and waited for someone to notice and take care of you. OK, now think about the times you waited while watching employees talk to one another and were totally oblivious to your presence. How about those times you sat in a restaurant watching other tables being served that were seated after you? What about that customer service representative that promised to call you back in an hour … and never did? These are all symptoms of a breakdown in sense of urgency.

Sense of urgency and customer satisfaction are inseparable. If your business fails to deliver on a customer expectation, it will show in your first-time and existing client retention rates. It’s that black and white. Nothing infuriates clients more than shoddy or substandard service. If a business fails to deliver on its quality and experience promise, it must be regarded as a breach of contract. Likewise, attention to detail, amazing service and the efforts any business makes to exceed the ordinary and deliver the extraordinary is what truly defines world-class brand.

The ability to consistently deliver quality and extraordinary experiences is, without question, a reflection of a company’s culture and systems. Here’s an interesting question to ponder: When you’ve experienced true no-compromise, high sense of urgency, service from a company, were you experiencing the culture and systems of the business, or the service and work ethic of an individual who functions with a sense of urgency? A customer satisfaction driven employee may hide a company’s warts once or twice, but eventually the company’s true culture and lack of urgency to satisfy its customers will be exposed for customers to see.

Here’s a hit list of no-compromise strategies you can use to create a sense of urgency to drive the Customer Service Business Outcome in your company:

  • Videotape staff servicing customers: Video doesn’t lie. It shows what’s real. The videotaping must be positioned as a learning exercise – not a “catch people doing something wrong” witch hunt. Watching their own behavior, posture, body language, attire … and the visual responses from customers … can be a real wake-up call. Video can be an important tool to communicate the need to change in a compelling way that service employees can truly feel and internalize.
  • Take a tour: Take staff on a tour of your facility and have them take notes of everything they see and observe that would either support or detract from customer satisfaction. When it comes to customer satisfaction … everyone is responsible. When the “It’s not my job to do that” line contaminates your culture, the Customer Satisfaction Outcome is compromised. Time for a Neilism: Why is it that only owners and leaders can see the dirt that is obviously invisible to employees? Be sure to have the debriefing and strategies meeting afterward to define a decisive plan of action to improve customer satisfaction.
  • Service is like a Broadway play: Every successful Broadway play demands that every actor knows his or her lines and to be in the right spot on cue. There is a sense of urgency to relentlessly rehearse until everyone gets it right and every scene is executed flawlessly – not just on opening night, but every night. How many of your employees know their lines and cues? How many employees can execute those lines and cues flawlessly every day? Anything less than every time/every day is a compromise.
  • Define your standards: Create your company’s own “Non-Negotiable Customer Satisfaction Standards.” How quickly can the phone be answered? How long will a client be allowed to wait? How will clients be greeted? How will consultations be executed? What’s the procedure for concluding a service, including pre-book and product recommendations? What’s each and every individual’s responsibility for ensuring that what clients see and hear is only what they’re supposed to see and hear? What conversation topics are off limits? What is an acceptable dress code? You and your team should have no trouble expanding on this list.
  • Visual cues: If you have a call center or telephone sales office, install call sequencing monitors so employees can see how many customers are on hold, for how long and how many calls were lost. Mount the monitors so all employees can see them. Nothing creates urgency more than seeing the action live.
  • Consistency is like a steady drumbeat: Make “sense of urgency” issues and strategies part of your daily huddle. Keep them short and focused. The intent is to keep the drumbeat pace “urgent.” These daily verbal reminders will ultimately shape your customer satisfaction culture.
  • Cheerleading a little nudge: The no-compromise leader never hesitates to use the tried and true method of cheerleading employees with the “let’s pick up the pace – we’ve got customers to satisfy.” When direct instruction or wake-up calls are needed, don’t hesitate. I’m not suggesting that you turn into a Marine drill sergeant, it just never hurts to apply a little leadership nudge, or more, when necessary.
  • Customer satisfaction and shared accountability: Accountability is not a word to be feared. Accountability is about a commitment to doing it right and doing it on time. Accountability is a commitment to achieving the highest level of consistency. If your company’s brand promise is to deliver value, consistency and extraordinary client experiences, then accountability must be embedded as a core value that is shared and protected by each and every employee. No compromise.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click below to comment.

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They will appreciate it.

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