What Being Kind To A Customer Really Means

20 January 2004

In Search Of ExcellenceThey want me to think like a FedEx employee when FedEx should, instead, think like a customer. They should ask me what matters—speed or cost—and then figure out how to send it for me the fastest or cheapest way…

FedEx, competition to the US Postal Service, has turned into the US Postal Service.

Jeff Jarvis
January 19, 2004

Out of the CrisisIn Search of Excellence came out in 1982 as did Out of the Crisis. Since that time we’ve seen untold numbers of business improvement initiatives aimed at – well – they were supposedly aimed at business improvement. How many thousands of articles have been written that in one way or another state that the only lasting business improvement is customer-focused.

Few companies understand how to see their operations through the eyes of their customers. Few executives ever personally experience the kind of service that his or her customers experience. When that happens you wind up with customer hassles that defy logic.

Lately, we’ve been chasing something called ”customer relationship management,” but we don’t want to say that so we call it CRM. Absent a heart for customers at the very top of an organization, this fad and all those before it cease to be business improvement initiatives. Instead they wind up in the long list of fads that were tried and found wanting. The problem is that few of them were every properly ”tried,” and even fewer executives had the ”constancy of purpose” to stick with them through highs and lows or the announcement of the next big business fad!

Serving customers is such a simple concept. It’s very hard work, but it is such a simple thing to understand. Unfortunately, in too many organizations, reciting and internalizing The Golden Rule is just way too sophomoric for the intellectual standing of those who work there.

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