“It’s out of our control”

If you’ve read Seth Godin’s daily email for more than a week in your life, and found yourself either nodding your head, or catching yourself say “why doesn’t my [boss, team] or I do that more often”?, then you’ll recognize why sharing his thoughts here resonate with me (and this blog).
I had to share his timeless words of wisdom with you below.

Thank you Seth.

(The thinking in this post pairs quite well with the book, “Learning from the Octopus” by Race Sagarin – the main thesis in that book is that the highly adaptive functions of the octopus — and in organisms and ecosystems in general — present a learning opportunity (and a challenge) for business, government teams and their organizations to be more adaptable on behalf of their customers, stakeholders and/or constituents.)

Responsibility and the power of ‘could have’

The us/them mindset of most corporate customer service is simple:

  1. When you can, get it over with.
  2. If at all possible, evade responsibility.

Which means that when things go wrong, you’ll likely encounter a legalistic mentality that begins and ends with, “it’s out of our control.”

There’s an alternative.

It begins with understanding the economics of loyalty. Saving a customer is ten times more efficient than finding a new one. If it costs an airline $1,000 of marketing and route development to acquire a first class business traveler, it’s worth at least $10,000 in customer service to keep one. And that means that an extra ten minutes on the phone clocks in at a high value indeed.

And it continues with a simple tactic: Instead of defining the minimal legal requirement, outline the maximum possible action you could have taken.

“You’re right ma’am, that was a terrible situation. And we could have alerted you in advance that the plane was late, and we could have trained the flight attendants to be more aware of situations like this and we could have been significantly more responsive when we saw that the whole thing was going sideways. That’s incredibly frustrating–you’re right.”

Because it’s all true. 

Finish reading here.


Tanya Maslach Written by: