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The lost art of anticipation a crucial business competence! A CEO’s checklist.

When did we stop thinking about what “things could be like?” What if only…?”

Somewhere along the way we lost the art of anticipation.

I often notice that when we do not anticipate we do not get to “the extra mile – above and beyond” it simply cannot happen. I notice this a great deal when it comes to “people” experiences.

I asked a group of folks recently what is the difference between customer: service, care, and delighting the customer. You can imagine that conversation! Do you know the difference?

I also asked who do you want to speak to when you buy a product? Is it the store or someone remote to the whole buying experience?

I also asked why is that we spend millions on customer service departments?

You get my point, if this was your business is this how you would run things?

Remember the last time you had to talk to customer service: The time when you punched a myriad of buttons only to talk to someone so geographically distanced that you wonder how did we get to this state in business today!

How is it that when we shop locally we speak to someone globally and so separated from the concept of “think and buy local?”

Does this concept add value to the customer experience or simply add cost! It is not often that I find it adds to a customer’s experience!

I also find that there is much to do when it comes to someone who is not your customer today but could be tomorrow!

I did an experiment on recruitment processes and wondered whether we would treat applicants differently if they were your next boss or a major potential stakeholder or future customer!!!

I got an answer that I did not like.  Oh my! We need to understand that applicants can also be customers and they figure out pretty quickly how consistent your business practices work and how consistent your values are!!

I urge you to ask the questions I asked!

Is your business really “delighting the customer?”  And do your employees really know what that means?

Hint: It is not what we do today for our customers that will bring long-term success it is what we anticipate that they will need tomorrow and the day after that is a business competence that will separate us from everyone else.



Break the Golden Rule for Success!

We often hear that customer service is about the golden rule – Treat others like you want to be treated.

I am here to tell you its plain WRONG!

Here is why!

1. How dare you treat me like you want to be treated. You don’t KNOW ME that well.

2. I am an INDIVIDUAL in my own right and I like different things.

3. What turns you on may not turn me on and that DISENGAGES ME!

4. When you follow the golden rule it means you don’t even have to ASK me.

5. It’s the worst message on customer service. You ASSUME what I like and give me something I don’t want AND YOU THINK YOU DID A GREAT JOB.

6. When you stop thinking about what the OTHER person wants your customer service will never improve and NEITHER WILL YOUR BUSINESS.

7. Keep following the golden rule enough times I WILL TAKE MY BUSINESS AWAY.

I could go on but you get the picture. So why do we continue to follow the Golden Rule like Lemmings?

Treat me like I want to be treated ASK ME!  That way you have a great chance of keeping me as a customer.

So go on, break the Golden Rule you will have some fascinating conversations and you will be amazed at what you learn.


The Seven Capabilities that deliver results!

I recently wrote about the seven sins and then the seven virtues of performance reviews, now I write about the Seven Capabilities that employees must have in order for the business to strive for the very best it can be.

* Problem Solving and Planning

The ability to solve problems and find solutions systematically; finds the best conclusions as a result of inclusive conversation with co-workers at all levels; Produces specific, measurable and achievable plans in order to deliver solutions.

* Forecasting

Realistically predicts outcomes based on an objective review, evaluation and analysis of evidence; obtains the evidence and data which enables forecasts to be made; decisions not made randomly but on sound evidence and business insight.

* Financial Awareness

Understands and interprets numbers and makes the connections that lead to conclusions and decisions that form the base of actions.

* Communication skills

Be a great listener – listen to understand, competent on computer, paper, and telephone, good on their feet and constantly attempts to improve the skills of persuasion and connecting with others at all levels of the business.

* Entrepreneurism

Constantly seeks out improvement opportunities and seeks change for improvement to grow the business and the people who work there. Does not accept that Status Quo is necessarily the right thing for the business.

* Team Work

Are reliable and collaborative and supportive team players who look for opportunities to help; ask questions to advance understanding; participates in meetings; doesn’t wait to be told what to do- offers ideas and solutions.

* Customer Excellence and Quality Care

Knows the internal and external customer, anticipates their needs and requirements; produces realistic plans and programs to deliver results; constantly looks for way to delight the customer and improve quality of service. Displays a personal commitment to the customer.


The customer you don’t yet have might have been the best one you ever had!

Reminders that you never know who could be you be talking to.

Have any of these stories ever happened to you? A recent event made me think again about how people treat people!

  • Went to the hospital to visit a family member. Asked the nurse can you call the Doctor for me? The reply was “this is not my patient area” Is that patient care?
  • A Friend went for a job interview and was told “not hiring and if not buying” they needed to leave. Would you buy there?
  • A Friend went to drop of an application wearing capris and flip flops and was told that if you come dressed looking like that, you will not work here. Would you ever feel welcomed?
  • I will not hire you as I only recruit from friends and people I know. Why would you ever feel the inclination to buy there?
  • I see you are here with your friends and have been here for a while talking are you buying anything, if not, you need to leave. What kind of experience does this business give?
  • When sitting waiting to be served for food.  The server you speak to says you are not at ”their” table and walks away. Then you have to wait. Would you ever go back?
  • You go into a store and the assistants look at you and continue talking and after few moments come over and ask. “What do you want?” Is this great customer service?
  • That when a friend applied for a job they never heard anything back at all. What kind of service would you feel that business would give you as a customer?
  • You apply for a job and they say they will get back to you and never do. Where is the trust?
  • That when a friend was treated badly as an employee yet the business owner is all “nice” with the customer. Do they walk the talk?

When a business owner or manager or employee does not understand that relationships are built on reputations and they treat people like this, can they expect to be successful?

Seems that there are too many people in business whether owners, managers or support staff that simply do not “get it” They will never be the people that will truly be engaged in making a business thrive. We need and deserve much better and so does our economy!

We all need to remember that we rely on others and we never know that the person we just “blew of” might have the greatest influence on your business and life!


Why does a hospital have a waiting room?

This question is so important when it comes to Hospitals. Here is why?

It’s affects patient loyalty. Hospitals measure their success through patient loyalty!

After all, no customers no revenue stream! No future patients no future business. One less Hospital.

Hospitals are concerned about their sources of revenue. E.g. payer mix, funding sources, length of stay, number of patient visits, number of infections, patients falls, number of surgeries, number of visits and so on. Expenses are the other part of the equation.

So why would a hospital expend time and energy and resources in having waiting rooms…when they don’t need to. They simply have to work it out!

I am focusing, in this blog, on elective visits’, those that have been scheduled! Although work can be done and has been done on reducing OR and ER wait times too.

Coming from the manufacturing world and entering the passion and intensity of health care the challenge to me was  “ we don’t treat people like widgets here” My challenge back was “Yes we do if we let them sit and wait alone and without customer attention. “

Patients don’t come to hospitals to sit and read a magazine in the wait room or watch a TV with no sound on; anyway it’s always the wrong channel.

To me a waiting room is akin to a warehouse! Manufacturers today, have little if anything in the way of warehouses! Why? They figured it out a long time ago. Doesn’t bring in money!  People don’t pay for what they see as not adding to their experience.

A cost without a return on investment, and worse still not customer/patient attention takes away from the experience.

In any event a waiting room is an expensive storage place!

Lets face it, when you have a waiting room you have to have someone clean it, stock it with coffee, cookies, kit it out with furniture, get those magazines, put in flat screen TV’s. , Flowers etc. You get the picture!

Many hospitals are spending lots of money on “making their wait rooms look like hotel foyers! Now I admit it does contribute to the “aesthetic experience” – not like a hospital!” However… the waiting room?

Wow! Is this money not better spent on treating the patients? Would eliminating the need for waiting areas not reduce costs and overheads?

Lets spend time thinking of improving the REAL experience of the patient!

Focusing on scheduling and process flows (taken from Toyota Manufacturing principles) is the way to go. It can be done and has been done! The ability to look outside of your known comfort zone and seek out what other industries and professions do is fundamental and we need to do it! MORE!

Health Care is all about taking care of patients and their families, (mind, body and spirit). So why let someone wait at your hospital. and ignore them when the probably need reassurance.

I have noted that those that come into the hospital for their elective visits don’t want to wait.

They have a job to go back to, a baby sitter they are paying, they are scared about outcomes, they are afraid of what it costs them, and then on too many an occasion they are left waiting with nobody even saying or asking: How are you? Thanks for coming to our hospital, is there anything I can do for you while…

So lets remember:

  1. Patient Loyalty is Number One, because with this comes the crucial question all Hospitals want to see high scores on “likelihood to recommend!!!”
  2. Most patient satisfaction surveys score lower when there are wait times (which always seem longer when no-one is paying attention to you!)
  3. People come to hospitals in many instances because they have to, not because they want to. (So waiting does not add to a great experience)
  4. Ask the patient! Would they rather have a nice waiting room, or reduced costs and go home earlier, or be seen on time?
  5. Supreme Customer Satisfaction always starts by treating your customer/patient like they want to be treated. (Reverse the Golden Rule- it was never right in the first place)
  6. There is much to be learned from that which happens outside of healthcare.
  7. So get a group of patients and a few others together in a customer relation’s improvement team to work on what the future state experience should look like.

After all we are all customers to someone so lets take care of me!

In the end I will come back and I will tell others to use your hospital, many times over when I have had a great experience. The opposite is also true too when I have a bad experience but we don’t want to go there do we?


April 22nd 2010



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