Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Customer Service

THEME: Transformation in the Midst of 2009

FOCUS: Customer Service

Tuesday morning: September 8, 2009

Dear friends,

As we approach the one year anniversary of this current recession, some organizations are still lost and struggling. Like deer in the proverbial headlights, they are close to panic. Fear abounds and clarity is lacking.

Other companies are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel and praying it is not the arrival of another train. They are entering this fall with a touch of hope and optimism. For them, flat is the new up and they are delighted to still be in existence.

As all of this is taking place, I am invariably curious about the companies who are doing well in spite of all that has happened. These organizations and their exceptional leadership teams are focused, and on track to meet their short and long term goals. They understand what is happening and yet remain dedicated to being successful. As John Roederer and David Christensen reminded me when I spoke last week to all of the teachers and staff at the

Mount Pleasant Community School District, their motto is simple: “high expectations, no excuses.” I like this statement because it is so direct and clear.

When I look at the successful, high expectations and no excuses companies and organizations at this time period, I note that their success revolves around the quality of their customer service. Now for decades we have known that quality customer service is a key factor in organizational success. And there have been endless seminars, consultations, workshops and books printed to prove or sell this point. But I believe there is a difference that is critical to the current success that some companies are experiencing.

The best companies now have moved beyond providing good customer service and are instead partnering with customers and their social networks. While this may seem like I am playing with words, I believe there is a profound difference between providing good customer service and partnering with a customer. In the former, the focus is on what we offer and what we do. We think up what is best and they follow us. The customer is the recipient of our efforts and actions. In the later, the focus is on how we mutually create the right solutions given their challenges or problems. Rather than assume that all intelligence is centralized with the provider, a partnership is a based on respect and understanding. In a partnership, we co-create the solution and then co-create the implementation. Through partnership, we generate more sustainable and less transactional solutions and interactions.

This week, step back from the piles of paperwork, meetings and e-mail. Reflect on what partnering with consumers and customers plus their social networks would look like in your circle of influence.

Have a fantastic week,


Geery Howe, M.A.
Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in
Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change

Morning Star Associates
319 - 643 - 2257

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