Volume 11, Issue 5 - September/October 2009

Customer Service
tips for quality service

In It to Win
by Carl Tompkins

“In it to win” is a phrase that should be consistent in all positions and all subjects. In essence, we should be the best at what we do and win the blue ribbon in whatever races we decide to run. To truly be in it to win, people and organizations must first choose this pursuit, commit to the accomplishment and then take the proper action to finish in first place.

This common mistake by upper management can be summed up best by a situation encountered years ago by the then Baltimore Colts. Prior to a championship game, Coach Don Shula delivered a pre-game pep talk to his team. After delivering his motivating comments he looked over to quarterback Johnny Unitas and asked him for any final words of encouragement. Johnny, a man of few words, said, “Talk is cheap, let’s play the game!” If the point remains unclear, management’s walk had better match their talk and the playbook used to run the organization had better result in actions that win business championships.

Following is a playbook to test the reality of whether your organization is really in it to win.

Play #1: Corporate Culture-Atmosphere-Environment
The top person in the organization must make sure that the way business runs, the feelings within the organization, how people operate and the elements (policies, procedures, facilities, equipment, etc.) used to run the organization are set on a winning course. A winning course is defined simply as a harmonious effort, set on trust, that every effort, for the common good of the team, is directed toward the goal of being champion. Being a champion most often centers on profitable, financial growth.

Indications that the play is not being run properly: Team members find and feel that the PEP (Politics, Ego and Pride) Trap rules the organization. This often leads to the wrong people running the organization in the wrong way. Management will do the right thing only when politics, egos and pride are protected.

Play #2: Change is Constant
If a company is great enough to lead in its field, it had better remember that the competition is never far behind. The modus operandi of competitors is to attain the same level of success by duplicating products and services at lower costs and selling at lower prices. This happens in all industries and this fact requires industry leaders, responsible for innovation, to improve existing products and services while adding new products and services. It should be noted that improving existing products and services is limited and the majority of efforts needs to create change through adoption of new business strategies that incorporate new products and services.

Indication that the play is not being run properly: There is nothing new to offer, and the majority of effort is matching lower competitor pricing.

Play #3: Reliability is #1
Within the product line and services offered by a company, those products and services had better be reliable—meaning the services and products sold had better arrive on time and function exactly as promised the first time. This is a controllable element within running a business and management had better live to a zero-defect policy. Systems had better be in place to make sure things go as plan and the right people need to be put in the right positions.

Indication that the play is not being run properly: There is lots of rework, account credits, “I’m sorry” customer lunches and management consuming everyone else’s time with excuses and apologies. Customers are leaving no matter what the price.

Play #4: People Win Championships
Management (the coach) must take care of the employees (the team) by being sure they are fueled to win championships. Employees must know what is expected of them, be taught how to comply, attain regular feedback and have a good example of leadership to follow. Management must solicit input and feedback from employees and respond to such information 100 percent of the time. Breakdown here results in the failures of play number 2 and 3.

Indication that the play is not being run properly: Management works in a vacuum. Employees are encumbered with work that has nothing to do with their assigned position. Furthermore, employees are being asked to do more than what is fair and forced to use business systems and products that are ineffective.

Carl Tompkins is the Western states area manager for SIKA Corp. in Madison Heights, Mich. He is based in Spokane, Wash. Mr. Tompkins’ opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.


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