You are paid to make decisions.
If you run the cash register at a yogurt store or you are on the National Security Council, you are paid to make decisions. The right decisions lead to rewards. The wrong ones lead to failure (and hopefully wisdom).
It is easy to drop bombs from 10,000 feet and much harder to use a knife in hand-to-hand combat. Meaning, the further you are from the people effected by the decision, the more black and white it seems.
It is easy to declare a “NO” to a customer request if you are not the one that has to communicate it.
Try to get the decisions that directly impact a customer as close to the customer as possible. That way, your customers have fewer “NO” experiences.
This is not always possible. Sometimes empowerment at the customer level can lead to the customer always getting a YES, at the dire expense of the organization.
So the following is an illustration of the balance:
The Driver License Bureau
From Customer Mania! By Ken Blanchard
Ken Blanchard told a story about his visit to the Drivers License Bureau. In anticipation of this time-wasting experience he asked his Administrative Assistant to block off 3 hours for the visit. He dreaded it! He dreaded the fact that he always missed line items on a form, had the wrong document, and that he always had a problem that made him go to the back of the line. He did not want to go!
When he arrived he immediate noticed a change. He was met at the door by a smiling person that greeted him and asked him how they could help. After he explained his need to renew his license, the greeter looked at his documents and told him a few things to do while he was in line to make his wait shorter at the window. The greeter even showed him the shortest line. He went to the window with his renewal test, it was graded, and he was one question short of passing the test. The person at the window said, are you sure about the answer to number four? A, B, and C don’t look like the right answer. (She did this because she realized it was only one question between him and having to come back again) Miraculously, he passed the test, was given his license, and was ready to go out the door in 15 minutes. He was astounded!
He noticed that the supervisor’s desk was in the middle of the room. Ken Blanchard went over to the supervisors to report his positive experience. Ken Blanchard asked him what he had done to make this change. The supervisors said, “We changed our focus. My job used to be in the back room making sure the paperwork was filled out the right way. Now, my job is to reorganize the department at a moments notice based on the customers needs. We want employees here to use their brains and their judgment before they apply the rules.”
The answer is to create a culture that guides the YES and the NO. Build organizational leadership that can see that intimate perspective from far away. Build customer facing leadership that can understand the bigger picture. A customer oriented culture personalizes decisions, empowers a team and makes customers return for more.