“One of the key reasons people don’t serve each other in organizations is because they’ve been told to serve something else. Usually it’s targets or goals.” -Joel Bailey, Director of Product and Service Innovation, EY Seren
Imagine a professional sports team who gives every player a financial bonus for hitting certain individual goals but no bonus for winning games or a trophy. Will players stop working hard once they’ve reached those individual goals? Will winning be put in second place? What will the chances of winning a championship be?
This sounds ridiculous. The game isn’t about individuals hitting goals, it’s about the team hitting the goal of winning a championship. Yet, companies misplace priorities in a similarly ridiculous way on a regular basis.
In companies all over the place, the message employees hear over and over is “hit targets, hit goals, bottom line, bottom line, bottom line, numbers, numbers, numbers” yet the game isn’t about that. The game is about helping customers achieve their goals. It’s about solving problems for people.
By messaging the pursuit of hitting arbitrary scores, team members focus on those rather than serving customers and working as a team to do so.
Now, if you are shaking your head saying say you and your organization don’t do that, are you sure? How often are customers and how to best serve them the first item on meeting agendas? How many times are customer needs versus sales goals or budget concerns mentioned during a typical day?
Joel Bailey is absolutely right, when the focus is on serving one misplaced priority, it is impossible to serve what should be the real priority, certainly not well if at all.
Companies are constantly looking for the magic bullet for customer service. Well, it starts with what’s most important internally. You can change all the standards and redesign every touchpoint, but long-lasting change will not happen until you change the focus of the company to what the game is really about, and that is helping people. Yes, the real purpose of business, helping people solve problems and achieve results.
I have had the privilege to stay at a couple of Ritz Carlton hotels and they seem to get it right. Their motto, we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen, makes it clear what the game is about for the organization. The most important thing is serving, and it isn’t just about serving customers, it’s about serving each other within the organization as well. At RC, they see respecting and helping each other as important as respecting and helping guests. They are all, both customers and co-workers, ladies and gentlemen.
Thus, the key to serving well is not who you serve but that you serve—throughout the organization. When the message and priority of serving is clear inside and outside, the service is great. This. Is. The. Magic. Bullet.
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