Monthly Archives: August 2010

It’s NOT about Customer Service it’s about “Customer Servantship”.

We hear all the time “Its all about customer service!” What does that mean?

So here are my thoughts!

  • I asked,  “What is customer service?” of a number of folks and guess what? They all said something different.
  • We also had lots of conversation about who is a customer! Well the news is everybody is your customer!
  • It seemed they were all talking about outcomes and worse were quoting from company scripts!
  • Customer Service has become an  “Industry” and includes anything from big job titles to huge departments in organizations.
  • Yes! they have whole departments for this stuff. What happened to “Get it right first time? “
  • The people you speak to work off scripts and often have no authority to go outside set boundaries and then start espousing company rules. That’s Blah!
  • It’s not about “customer service recovery”. That’s too late!
  • It’s not about gimmicky slogans like “Customer is King” or “Customer First” or “Make sure your customer has a great day” – overused and who are these signs to remind? – You got it! Just words that flow unconsciously and easily out of too many sales assistants and now passé’.
  • So it’s not about “clever words” or processes.

This is what it’s about!

  • Breathe into the hearts and minds the philosophy of “serving”.
  • Use the qualities of servant leadership.
  • In order to be a “customer” servant leader, you need the following qualities: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, growth and building a community. (*)
  • Acquiring these qualities tend to give a person authority versus power. Now that’s what I am talking about!  How would you FEEL if you had that kind of attention given to you…GOOSEBUMPS.


  • The difference is simple: The customers’ highest priority needs are being served, and they are given the “whole experience”
  • A great test is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?


  • This it seems is the ultimate! The likelihood of your customers recommending your business to everyone they know! That’s the community!



  • So its about the human touch and soul and mind coming together.


  • None of us need “gimmicks” to help us serve our loved ones, so put this into place with your customers and note the difference.
  • It is about putting the “servantship” of customers above all else and thinking of the customer all the time and they are first.
  • It’s a total mindset and philosophy about “serving” not giving service and there is a huge difference in this.

(*)(From the teachings of Robert K. Greenleaf)

The foundational concepts are found in Greenleaf’s first three major essays, The Servant as Leader, The Institution as Servant, and Trustees as Servants.



The Bridge of Engagement- Translating Engagement into Meaningful Customer Experience!

Most of us in business are involved in conversations about “engagement” at some time or another!

This is what I found out!

  1. Engagement without direction or purpose is wasted effort and is unacceptable.
  2. Doing nothing about the “internal terrorists” the disengaged is simply not doing your job and will kill your business.
  3. A lack of understanding of what to do with those that are engaged means a lack of  management competence.
  4. Engagement starts in the hiring process. The computer adage of “garbage in garbage out” is appropriate.
  5. Engagement also reaches out to the community in which your business exists and your community is your business world.

This is what works!

  1. Link your engagement scores to your customer satisfaction scores.
  2. Make it a daily conversation in your team meetings.
  3. Identify who really is part of your team.
  4. Understand the thought that making customers want to come to you and recommend you to others is the goal and it gives focus to all what you do.
  5. Engagement means identifying how you motivate the hearts and minds.
  6. Involve your suppliers in the conversation; they are as much a part of your business success as your own employees.
  7. Include customers. They will help you with the key question of how you are translating engagement into their experience.
  8. Identify how the values and your mission are enhanced by higher engagement.
  9. Get those employees “ who have quit and stayed” off the bus.
  10. Remember that engagement starts with you.


When coping with “different” is a lonely place.

We read all the time about people being “ engaged” it’s a buzzword and it’s around all the professional employee surveys and the business community.

What we all want is that “engaged” employee! They can help us achieve greatness and move on. After all we are told if we don’t change we are moving backwards!

Its simple really, we want people to like what they love and then transfer their love to the work they do.

I really enjoyed the book by John Gordon – “ Soup” one of the special ingredients’ he talks about is love. I tested that theory with a couple of friends who had baked the same blueberry cake at a BBQ party.

Why with the same ingredients did they taste different and they never tasted the same twice made!

They said “When we have time to bake we know we take more care and put more love into our work and it does make a difference”!

When I speak to new hires I talk about their absolute need to bring their hearts and minds and their spirit to the work they do at the hospital where I worked.

I say it makes no difference whether you are a direct care giver or you wash the floors, its how you go about doing what you do that will be noticed by the patients and their families and its all important, and all of what we do is part of the experience for all who come for care.

The only thing that really differentiates business and much else for that matter are the people.

We all know that and in his book the “Dream Manager “ Mathew Kelley said that we will only become a really successful organization (community) “when the people who work there become better versions of themselves” for it is they that will make us what we can ever dream to be.

I talk much about change to people in the work I do and yet I find that many people find “different” to be a big enough challenge. Whether it is a different office, a different phone line or a new job some distance away from there loved ones.

We are all creatures of habit. Yet all our habits are different and that’s why we need to inspire the hearts and minds and then all else will follow.

What I know from recent conversations is that it’s a lonely world giving of your self and sacrificing things that you love and I also know that we must not forget that simply moving into the world of “different” can be just as hard as the world of “change”.

It’s our job to notice these things and be there to support our friends and colleagues and to give our love and support.

At the end of the day our greatest quality and gift is love. Yet its not often that we see that as a guiding behavior or value or competence….


Where living to the age of 21 is life’s goal!

“859 House” is less than a mile from the U.S. Capitol building yet it may as well be 10,000 miles away it’s that different from where the well heeled and influential on Capitol Hill go about their daily work oblivious, of how close another world is to their own.


“The House” is an outreach haven open year round and is community home for young boys and men in one small part of Washington D.C.

It’s a place for love and spiritual guidance and is an oasis amidst a sea of crime, discrimination, drugs, guns and little hope of any kind.

It is a place for kids to go, to learn and do something worthwhile, to keep them off the street, for some to keep them out of jail, or get into drugs, or worse simply to keep them alive. Its that kind of environment.

The mission of the “House” is simple and practical- nothing fancy but it’s powerful!

“To bring love and service, and Christian beliefs into the hearts of young people – to transform kids into the best they can be and to give them dreams and hopes and a self belief that they are truly worthy.”


They are loved and cared for by the volunteers and mentors who work there.

Guns and drugs and shootings are part of their daily life. Kids dare not stray to the other side of the road as that belongs to another gang. They are often stopped in the streets or in stores for here trust and color do not sit easily together.

“The House” opens its doors in the summer, when school is out, to other teens, boys and girls and organizes sponsored funded trips so that the kids can  “get away from it all”

They go to places like Michigan where my family lives and hosts “two kids from D.C.”.

“The 859 House kids” have to earn the right to go on these trips. Community work is what they have to do, to earn their place on the 12 hour-long bus trip to Michigan.

They are with us for 7 days. Then they go back and dream of the next trip two years into the distance.

They look forward to these trips. They remember everything from the last time.

This past week we hosted and are the parents for one week of our “two kids from D.C.”

Two African American girls who when they first came 2 years ago, were so scared they would no even go into the fridge for some goodies – an American kids pastime!

We remember, they would not even touch my wife’s handbag to get the purse out for some money- even though we asked them to take out 5 dollars.

This time, it was different. You see trust is an important part of life, and we formed a bond two years ago that meant they were not scared to treat our home as theirs for the brief week they were with us.

In these seven days we were one family and no one saw color.

We learned from each other:


Our lives are so different and we take what we do in our Michigan town every day as normal.

Their normal is not our normal – the quietness of rural Michigan scares them they are used to the noise of screaming and sirens and gunshots.


They come from tough neighborhoods where goals include, staying alive, not getting raped, avoiding the prejudice and simply having fun without looking over your shoulder or watching which way you walk to the next fast food store.


They come from an environment where 85% of the kids don’t know who their father is and drugs and other bad stuff is their daily way of life.


They come from a life where they all know someone in their family who is in prison or has been seriously injured or shot.

That in spite of their world they love and want to be loved and care and feel the same things we feel and want the same things we all want.


Color differentiates where they live but not in our home, their home -color is part of what makes Gods environment

They come to Michigan every two years and they have to earn the right to do so.

Everything in life has to be earned; they have learned this from an early age.

They are loved, they are kids and we are in one country but live in different worlds.

In Michigan and in our house and for seven days in their lives it is all one country and one world and one community.


7 Churches on 7 Sundays! – The Responsibilities of Servant Leadership.

At  Church, Sunday we met the pastor who had just returned from a seven week sabbatical. You see he had felt  “burned out” from years of servant leadership. It’s both a love a calling and a heavy responsibility.

He said something that really caught my attention. He said:


“What do you do when you no longer like what you love?”

He had many words of wisdom that apply to all of us in our daily work whatever we do.

We all need to reawaken and rekindle the spirit that brought us to our calling.

I thought wow! That’s incredibly touching and I bet many of us feel like that from time to time.

He said, all too often people don’t know what I do but are quick to tell me what I have done wrong! But then I know I need to understand why. Sound familiar?

Sometimes we need to step away from being the Pastor or Business Leader and become one of the followers and parishioners’ and go among them to hear their voices.


We need to walk in their shoes and really listen and feel what they feel. We need to understand that not everything is what we believe or want it to be.


Different lenses see different pictures and we need to understand and weave them into our tapestry in the work we do.

He said “I can’t remember a time when I got a call in the middle of the night from someone saying they had had a great day? It was often something more pressing.”

We all need to give appreciation.

There are often times in the work we do in each of our businesses that means being a leader is all consuming. Who listens in your world, and who cares?

Everyone needs a “trusted someone” to speak to. We also need to remember that a business is a community and is more than a building.


The pastor said that he “needed time to contemplate the sacred relationship he had with his Church”.

He did not question his faith, what he needed to understand was how he could be the best pastor he could ever be and to use his talents in the best way he could:


To serve those who had entrusted their faith in him.


Does your leader reflect on his/her impact and focus on you?


The work of a Pastor is 24-7 there is little time for self and who does a Pastor go to, here on earth, when that lonely moment comes for self reflection and self doubt?

We all get to a point that we get weary and down and need the courage to see it and then do something to re-energize:


So that once again we like the work we love.

He posed the question: “How do you prepare good people to become the best versions of themselves?”

Leadership is not about self. It’s about creating leaders out of every single follower.

He posed the observation:

That the discontented people in this world are those who are not happy with what they have. Those that are really happy are those who have given of themselves for others.

The power to serve comes from within the faith that you have.


The pastor had taken ownership of who he is and recognized the need to do something!

He recognized that to take care of others he needed to be whole himself.

During his time of contemplation he visited seven different churches on seven different Sundays. He had attended as a parishioner and he had found that being a follower teaches us many lessons, like:

We all need to walk among our followers, as often as we can and really listen and people are not very different wherever you go.

A church like our own business is not a building. It’s the people within that are the church and the congregation and the employees and are the ones we serve.


So our Pastor visited other churches and found that they all have issues, the solutions are within each one of us. Other churches are not better they are simply different.


The grass is only greener when you nurture it to be so. That’s what Leadership is all about.







Picture courtesy Prerna231 Group


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