Online Edition - January 2000
Views for a Change
--In most marketplaces today customers have more choices than ever before and are choosier about products and services. Since we are all customers we recognize this from first hand experience.
--We know the feeling and experience of being served in a high quality fashion. As providers of products and services we find that giving others this experience is motivating for us. In this lies the answer to the second part of your question.
--Providing motivating consequences that lead to improved morale and which lead to improved customer service is essentially a marketplace issue. This means everyone in the organization must have what has been referred to as a clear "line of sight" to the customer. They must know that what they do is critical to high quality customer service and how what they do impacts this.
--The challenges that organizations of any size face is recognizing the need to do this, believing it is necessary and determining how to do it. Individuals choose motivation, morale and commitment; these are not legislated or "created" by others for us. "Real" circumstances motivate; illusions created by others do not.
--Real circumstances occur because they are natural outcomes of the marketplace experience. Customers choose our products and services because they are attractive and speak uniquely to them, if not they choose someone else's. This is all that matters; everything else is analyzing, supporting and tallying this occurrence.
--The first and most important place to start when unveiling the real circumstances is to authentically teach everyone the business. This includes financial, marketplace, business process and customer issues. It also involves taking the wraps off business information and releasing it in an unsanitized version - in short tell the truth about what is really going on. This is the cornerstone for everything else.
--Giving individuals control over how they serve is also critical. Believing that individuals will make choices that are both good for customers and the business is required - otherwise why do it?
-- It means placing faith in people and their ability to contribute. Changing the practices, policies and formal authority that manages the work signifies the intention that individuals and their contribution to high quality service is the best bet for future success. Beginning a continued focus on the necessity for each individual to choose accountability for the success of the whole business follows.
--Obviously this cannot be done if people do not understand the whole business. Doing this also requires a change in belief. It means stopping the belief that only senior managers are responsible and accountable for the whole.
-- It means seeing the necessity for everyone to exercise decision-making from this perspective. These suggestions may seem "soft." It seems to me however, that changing our beliefs about what organizations are and our intentions about how they should be managed, organized and structured is the hard work. It requires faith and dedication to creating a preferred future.
-- It is a matter of dealing with our intentions first and then together figuring out "how" to carry them out. Creating motivating consequences that lead to improved customer service requires engaging individuals in real marketplace circumstances and connecting them to the reality of the business while encouraging them to embrace this reality.