How seeing people differently can change everything.

Image result for bicyclingBicyclists. They get in the way. They are unpredictable. They are just obstacles to get around.

Right now, you are reading this thinking I am a jerk for thinking such things. How can this guy be so insensitive? Bicyclists aren’t so bad, they’re allowed the road like anyone else.

But when you’re behind one and they’re slowing your journey, you’re probably thinking one of the sentiments listed above. That doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a human person.

What I’m getting at is how easy it is to dehumanize people and turn them into objects or problems instead of people with problems and needs. And this unfortunate capacity is one of the chief problems plaguing our world. We, myself included, are too quick to dehumanize.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, when we dehumanize, it’s easier to not care and to allow or do terrible things to others. In his great book, Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek says “[Here is] one of the shortcomings of using numbers to represent people. At some point, the numbers lose their connection to the people and become just numbers, void of meaning.” In other words, when we make people things, like numbers, they become expendable like an obstacle in the road to be tossed aside or removed.

What does this mean in the everyday scheme of things? Where are there times when you dehumanize and forget that that person you are cussing is just like you, fragile, needy, unreasonable, and selfish? How does this influence how you lead or serve? How would changing this frailty change how you lead and/or serve?

To gain some clarity, let’s get back to our bicyclist. How do we go from seeing them as a pain to being people? The first thing to do is ask yourself some questions to get perspective. Is it possible that they are cycling for their health because they had a heart attack and want to live to see their children grow up? Is it  possible that they are cycling to raise money for a good cause? Is it possible that they are cycling because one of their values centers on the environment? When you think unselfishly giving others the benefit of having good intentions it is easier to see that they’re just people that love, live, and dream like all of us.

When we make a point of seeing others as people, it changes how we behave, it changes how we feel. As you move through today, make note of how you see others. See if consciously focusing on their humanity changes how you behave. See if this focus moves you to more reasonable responses. If it does, try it again the next day and the next. I can only hope it changes your world and the world of those you meet. Here’s to changing the world, one human at a time.


Don’t beg for scores, earn them.

Image result for service survey“’PLEASE GIVE ME TOP SCORES’ is the fourth most annoying interaction customers have with companies…” This quote is from Jeanne Bliss’s book Would You Do That To Your Mother?

Survey begging. I feel certain most of you have experienced it at some point. In simplest terms, survey begging is when employees of a business ask or suggest to customers that they give positive survey scores.  For example, I feel sure you’ve been on the receiving end of employees of some business telling you they’ll get in trouble if they don’t receive a good score, or informing you that anything other than all 10’s is considered a fail.  And while these are pretty blatant forms of the practice, even talking about scores at all can sound like begging, and regardless of how blatant or subliminal, survey begging or its surrogates cause several problems.

First, it’s annoying. Customers don’t like feeling that they are being cajoled into giving a survey score and the negative feelings that are engendered can actually work to your detriment as some customers will spitefully give lower scores.

Second, this practice often creates a perception that companies aren’t really using survey data to improve service; they’re only using it to for internal reward.  This can ultimately serve to decrease the number of responses since returning customers will stop participating because they see the survey as futile. Less responses means we learn less and improve less which can lead to increased customer dissatisfaction as well as increased employee frustration as they are forced to deal with more and more disgruntled customers.

Third, begging can cover up real service issues by artificially inflating scores. Customers might want to tell the truth about some weaker part of their experience, but they don’t, they just submit the inflated survey to ease their conscience.  The problem here is that the company never learns that something is wrong which will only lead to repeats of the poor performance and more and more customer unhappiness.

The lesson here is clear, survey begging defeats, in multiple ways, the primary purpose of your customer service or customer experience survey, namely, learning about weaknesses and using that knowledge to improve.

So what do you do?  How can you introduce the survey to customers without sounding like you are begging?

To begin, it’s important to be mindful of your objective in introducing them to the survey; you want customers to know that they will get a survey and that you use their input to help you make their experience better every time.  In other words, you don’t want the survey invitation to be a surprise and want them to know that it is really, ultimately, for their benefit.  Their honest views help you to get better for them.  You could even see the survey as a rather ironic form of service.

With that in mind, here is an example of one possible way to introduce your survey.  “Mr/Ms Customer, we will be sending you a survey to share your thoughts on our performance.  We value your views and use the feedback to improve your experience, so, if you would, please take a few minutes to complete the survey so we can continue learning and improving.  Thank you.”

As you can see, all I’ve done here is to introduce the survey to the customer, let them know why I want their input, make it clear that it is a benefit to them, and show appreciation for their taking the time to complete it.  No begging, no scores mentioned, just a request for their honest opinions and thoughts.

Begging doesn’t really work, in fact, it can work against you.  Getting honest customer feedback is of benefit to customers, and ultimately, your business.  So, if you want customers to say you gave them “excellent” service … inform them about the survey, and then focus on providing excellent service.

Are you delivering value? If not, what the hell are you doing?

Image result for valueA couple of years ago, I was visiting with a colleague and we were discussing something with someone who was remote. I had to send this remote person an image on a laptop screen. To do this, I went about an arduous process involving copying the screen image to a graphics app and then cutting the image out, copying that again and pasting it to the email. My friend was watching and asked why I was doing all of this elaborate mess. I responded that I had always done it like this. He then showed me how to use the snipping tool in Windows. I had never seen it or been shown it. It was like I had found the Holy Grail. It was so simple and allowed me to simply cut out whatever I wanted and paste it directly to any document. “Wow” was all I could eek out.

The reason I relay this is that it is a great example of providing value. We hear a lot about value these days but what is it.

There are complex ideas involving the balance between what you pay and what you get but I think it’s simpler than that. Whenever you get something that helps you do something more easily or gets you information that enables you to do achieve something, value has been delivered. When you read something and learn or are inspired, value has been delivered. When you get help that solves a problem, value has been delivered. Whether you pay or not has no bearing on whether it’s valuable or not. It either benefits you (valuable) or it doesn’t (not valuable).

This idea brings up a question. Is what you are doing bringing value? How does what you do or produce help anyone? How is it, like my encounter with the snipping tool, helping someone to achieve something easily, quickly, or more perfectly? It’s clear, value is a service proposition. Helpful is valuable, it’s that simple.

So, if you’re not bringing value with your work, what exactly are you doing? Think about it. Are you delivering value every day in every project and every interaction?

If we want our organizations to be valuable and deliver value, we should all be asking ourselves, every day, “How can I be more helpful? How can I be more valuable?”


I didn’t write this post, Seth Godin did, but it resonated with me so I’m reposting it. It’s almost a poem, and it is spot on s far as what’s necessary for pursuing excellence. Ponder this, make a plan, take action!

Image result for seth godin blog

Excellence by Seth Godin



If you knew,

and you could see the world through the eyes of the customer,

and you really cared…

What would you do?

That’s a simple test of creating excellence.

So, if I’m on hold for 56 minutes with Orbitz, does the CEO know? Is that ever a desired outcome?

Does the engineer who shipped a hackable voting machine know that it’s hackable?

The plumber who finished the job and left the hot/cold controls in reverse position… did he care enough?

Excellence cuts through bureaucracy and status quo and excuses and asks a simple question:

What would you do if you knew?


If you want to go to the original, go here …

And don’t stop there, check out all of the other great thought leadership on Godin’s blog site.

Are you clear or cOnfUSinG? Here’s a way to straighten that out.

Image result for clarityWhen customers or employees are unengaged or confused, it can largely be because you haven’t answered some simple questions they may have. You may think you have, but for whatever reason, they didn’t get it.

Answering questions can be more difficult than you think. What we might think answers the question might seem clear but given that people come to us with many different histories and types of experience, what we think is clear and simple might be confused and garbled to them.

One trick used in education is to say the same thing several different ways to try to ensure all of those different perspectives hear what we are saying clearly. Teachers will often say something, write it down, and maybe even have the students demonstrate it as it is described to them. You see, some people are aural, they hear best, some are visual, they do best when they see it, and others are tactile, they need to get active and do it as best they can.  And while all of these might be impractical to do with customers and employees, I think you get my gist.

Next time you are trying to explain something to a customer or employee, don’t walk away assuming they got what you were trying to say, ask them if what you said was clear – don’t ask if they understood, no one wants to say that they didn’t because that’s like saying “nope, I’m an idiot and need you to dumb it down.” When you ask if you’ve been clear, you put the onus for performance on you not them, if you’ve not been clear, you’re the one that’s an idiot and everyone’s okay with that, except for maybe you. So, ask them if you’ve been clear and if they reply that you haven’t, say it again in a different way. Maybe you can make an analogy, or draw a diagram, or write the steps down, or, well, you get the picture.

Giving people certainty and clarity is a surefire path to better relationships and better performance. And being helpful is the best way to show your commitment to their success, and that, my friends, is service, really good service.