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May 2012
Life's Tough, Get a Helmet!
I was introduced to this phrase recently at a conference at Mt Auburn Hospital where I was one of several speakers. During lunch, one of the Doctors was relaying a story about a recent circumcision she performed. Just before the big moment, the baby started to whimper – the Doctor immediately felt empathy for her tiny patient. His mother on the other hand, turned toward the baby and said: Life’s tough, get a helmet. Ouch! I repeat Ouch!
I must confess to loving the statement despite the circumstance. I started thinking about all the times in business when the phrase would be apropos. Times when as an executive, manager or supervisor you have to take a stand and demand excellence.
Life’s tough, get a helmet:
  • When your sales team complains they can’t sell your product because the economy is bad
  • When your customer service team bitches that they have to deal with difficult customers who aren’t nice to them
  • When your manufacturing boss tells you that production is behind schedule because a vacation prevented regular maintenance and it has to be done now
  • When the project manager informs you in a meeting that they can’t meet the deadline that is two weeks away
  • And on and on and on…..
But what really jumps out for me is how that phrase applies to our customers. Just what exactly do we do every day to “provide the helmet” for our customers. What actions should you be taking daily to insure your customers don’t need a helmet and when they do, that you have a helmet ready in their size.
How do you provide protection and assurance for your customers?
  • Ask your customers what they want and need from you, then
  • Develop written service standards
  • Measure those standards
  • Train your team in the standards and in the techniques of superior service delivery
  • Create strategies to sustain customer focus
  • Hold your team accountable for the standards
When you fail at meeting your customer’s expectations, and all businesses do, what do you do to return the customer to a“satisfied state”? Do you have a service recovery process in place? And most importantly, does your front line staff have the power, authority, knowledge and desire to make thing right for the customer – right now!
When you’ve taken all the steps above to deliver superior service and you’ve implemented a real service recovery process, and you have managed, mentored, and coached your team but still some of your players won’t get on board, well give them the opportunity to acquire a new helmet with another team’s logo! Bring in a replacement! There’s more than one kind of circumcision. Hey, life’s tough and so is business.

Need a design for your company’s “customer helmet”?
Call Catalytic Management at 978-562-5001.
We specialize in smoothing out the tough spots for customers.