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October 2012
Lessons From The Cowardly Lion
“I'm afraid there's no denyin' / I'm just a dandy-lion / A fate I don't deserve / I'm sure I could show my prowess / Be a lion, not a mouse / If I only had the nerve.”
You guessed it! The above words were sung by the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. Despite his heritage as king of the jungle, he lacked courage. How much courage does your staff possess when it comes to coping with unhappy customers or clients? Do they own a mistake, face up to it and fix it for the customer and importantly learn from it. Or do they send all the problems to you or their manager? Do they quake in their shoes when faced with a truly unhappy client or customer?
In working with a sales person for a large nonprofit, I asked how a recent client meeting had gone. The sales person replied: “It went great. The problem we had last month never came up. I feel like I dodged a bullet”. After taking a deep, deep breath, I explained to the sales person that it was his responsibility to bring up the issue, discuss it, confirm that the client was satisfied with the resolution and promise it would never happen again. But that takes courage! Does your team have courage? How do you help them build the courage it takes to own a mistake?
The Keys to Building a Courageous Staff
  • Give your staff the ability to make decisions that will solve customer problems. If they always have to go to a superior, they are less likely to accept responsibility for the resolution
  • Encourage risk taking by creating a safe landing and coach them through the process
  • Give them opportunities to demonstrate courage when the stakes aren’t as high - and praise them for doing it
  • Reward honesty and personal responsibility
  • Create company policies and procedures that are built on honesty
  • And most importantly, lead by example
Your customers and/or clients expect and deserve to be treated with respect, honesty and integrity. Admitting mistakes especially before the customer raises the problem and then quickly resolving them is the foundation for good customer service.
Years ago while working as VP of Sales for another company I learned a valuable service lesson. While working with one of the largest financial investment firms in the country, one of our staff members was arrogant and condescending to the students in a technology class. His behavior was rude and inexcusable. When the client called me to express her displeasure, I immediately apologized, assured her the instructor would be replaced by the next day’s class and asked for the contact information for each student so that I could personally apologize. It was a humiliating and embarrassing experience and the instructor was subsequently fired. But months later, the client told me that she was impressed with the speed of our response and most importantly she was impressed that I didn’t’ pull the dodge (her words) of saying I needed to speak with the instructor first before I could provide a resolution.
In my mind, it didn’t matter what the instructor may or may not have said in his defense – our client was unhappy regardless and that needed to be resolved immediately. The instructor later admitted his behavior and hence his termination.
It takes courage to admit your mistakes and to take responsibility for the fix even if you didn’t commit the mistake. Customers/clients expect you to demonstrate that courage and to repair the relationship as quickly as possible. Your role as a leader is to build that courage in your team so that whenever and wherever a mistake occurs the resolution is quick and straightforward.
Need courage? Need a problem resolution process to sustain great service?
Call the Wizards at
Catalytic Management.
978-562-5001
This and That
" A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way"
John C. Maxwell
"It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them and more manhood to abide by thought out principles rather then blind reflex"
Alex Karas
Here's What's Keeping
Us Busy!
The Price of Business Radio Show
September 7th
Shelley was interviewed on the Price of Business Radio Show in Houston Texas about relationship selling. She empahsized "that relationships are built on trust" and sales professionals must "establish trust before a prospect will buy".
Planning Growth: Looking Back 6
Moving Forward 12
September 27th
As a guest Board Member, Shelley participated in a seminar for CEO's, hosted by NextStage Solutions.
CEO's from three companies presented thier growth challenges to the board and an audience of CEO's. The "mock board" reviewed their plans and provided insight and advice. The companies were from Healthcare, Technology and Online Retail.