Friday, August 7, 2009

Return from Summer Conference

I was at our Summer CareerTech conference this week in Oklahoma City. This brings all the CareerTech system professional staff together for three days of sessions, meetings and networking. Our plenary speaker made an interesting point about education: "The primary aim of education is not to enable students to do well in school but to do well in life outside of school". By this he was remarking on our education systems unfortunate tendency to be more interested in obedience and order than in learning and development.

In considering this comment about education, what came to my mind is we often have processes or procedures or even 'ways of doing things' in our businesses that are more due to internal aspects than have to do with customers - that is - our reason for being.

As always, Seth Godin has a good statement on this, "The only reason to answer the phone when a customer calls is to make the customer happy." We often set procedures such as 'you must answer all customer calls', then not provide any resources or ability for the person answering to actually solve the problem. We lose sight of the reason we have a business is the customer.

You might remember, and it seems to have gone out of our collective consciousness, that there used to be a place in the department store called "Complaints Department" - a window where customers brought their unsatisfactory purchases. One also used to see this as part of a joke in comic strips.

Anyway, the point being is that the Complaints window never actually was able to solve the problem - so it was more a place to vent than anything else.

If we have policies in our organizations that inhibit our being able to sell products and make money, then we are just like schools turning out students good at school but not at life.

In both cases, the results don't justify the outlay. Take the opportunity here at the end of summer to review your procedures - are there places you are teaching your employees to be good students and not good salespeople?

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