How many people should be answering the phone at Zappos on a Saturday? What’s Southwest Airlines policy regarding hotel stays and cancelled flights? Should the knobs on the shower at the hotel go side by side or one above the other? Can I turn it on without getting sprayed with cold water? How many steps from the front of the hotel to the registration desk?
Too often, we blame bad service on the people who actually deliver the service. Sometimes (often) it’s not their fault. Sadly, the complaints rarely make it as far as the overpaid (or possibly overworked) executive who made the bad design decision in the first place. It’s the architecture of service that makes the phone ring and that makes customers leave.
Three quick tips for anyone who cares about this:
1. Require service designers to sign their work. Who decided to make it the way it is?
2. Run a customer service audit. Walk through the building or the software or the phone tree with all the designers in the room and call out what’s not right.
3. Make it easy for complaints (and compliments) about each decision to reach the designer (and her boss).
In my experience, most of the problems are caused by ignorance and isolation, not incompetence or a lack of concern.
(one bad blueberry spoils the whole bunch)
If you serve yourself blueberries by the handful, you won’t be able to inspect each one. And so just one rotten blueberry can ruin the entire bowl of cereal.
An apple is different. It’s hand picked. Pick the wrong one and it’s not such a big deal, you can just pick another.
If you sell apples, then, the goal is to make the great ones great, really great. If you’re in the blueberry business, on the other hand, the goal is to eliminate defects.
An artist who works on matters of personal taste, then, can afford to go to the edges… in fact, she must. Let the buyer choose! Books and paintings and houses are apples.
The manufacturer of fungible items, on the other hand, embraces six sigma, because recovering from a failure is expensive (and it’s your fault). Sutures are blueberries.
We train kids to deal with teachers in a certain way: Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to work on. Figure out how to say back exactly what they want to hear, with the least amount of effort, and you are a 'good student.'
We train employees to deal with bosses in a certain way: Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to do. Figure out how to do exactly what they want, with the least amount of effort, and the least risk of failure and you are a 'good worker.'
The attitude of minimize is a matter of self-preservation. Raise the bar, the thinking goes, and the boss will work you harder and harder. Take initiative and you might fail, leading to a reprimand or termination (think about that word for a second… pretty frightening).
The linchpin, of course, can't abide the attitude of minimize. It leaves no room for real growth and certainly doesn't permit an individual to become irreplaceable.
If your boss is seen as a librarian, she becomes a resource, not a limit. If you view the people you work with as coaches, and your job as a platform, it can transform what you do each day, starting right now. "My boss won't let me," doesn't deserve to be in your vocabulary. Instead, it can become, "I don't want to do that because it's not worth the time/resources." (Or better, it can become, "go!")
The opportunity of our age is to get out of this boss as teacher as taskmaster as limiter mindset. We need more from you than that.
We either ignore your brand or we judge it, usually with too little information. And when we judge it, we judge it based on the actions of the loudest, meanest, most selfish member of your tribe.
When a zealot advocates violence, outsiders see all members of his tribe as advocates of violence.
When a doctor rips off Medicare, all doctors are seen as less trustworthy.
When a fundamentalist advocates destruction of outsiders, all members of that organization are seen as intolerant.
When a soldier commits freelance violence, all citizens of his nation are seen as violent.
When a car rental franchise rips off a customer, all outlets of the franchise suffer.
Seems obvious, no? I wonder, then, why loyal and earnest members of the tribe hesitate to discipline, ostracize or expel the negative outliers.
"You're hurting us, this is wrong, we are expelling you."
What do you stand for?
Acumen celebrates its tenth anniversary this week.
Lesson 1: In fact, you can make a difference, you can start something from scratch, you can build something without authority or permission. Passionate people on a mission can make change happen.
Lesson 2: In fact, philanthropy works. Building systems and enhancing entrepreneurial outcomes generates results far bigger than the resources invested.
Lesson 3: You better be prepared to stick it out, to exert yourself, to last longer than you ever expected and to care so much it hurts.
- More than 3 million people have access to safe, affordable, and efficient energy
- 7,000 people have jobs and hundreds of millions of insecticide treated bednets have been produced by A to Z
- More than 330,000 farmers are changing their families’ lives with drip irrigation systems
- Hundreds of thousands have access to quality sanitation in Kenya – and Eco-Tact has become a model for other countries
- More than 150,000 farmers have access to quality, affordable hybrid seeds in Western Kenya
- 1298 is now answering more than 30.000 emergency calls every month in India (and has created more than 1250 jobs)
- Kashf has reached more than 300,000 borrowers with micro-loans and emerged as one of Pakistan’s important civil society institution
- The first commercial mortgages for the poor have been provided in Pakistan and Saiban has developed a working, sustainable model for low-income housing development
- More than 350,000 individuals have access to safe drinking water (and this doesn’t include the copycat companies that have emerged as a result of WHI’s innovation in the Indian marketplace)
- Aravind provides quality eyecare through telemedicine to millions across India and has served as a global model
- Sekem is the largest exporter of organic goods from the Middle East to Europe (working with 4,000 farmers on reclaimed desert land)
That a small band of talented, driven people could make this happen isn't surprising to me. What surprises me is that we still wonder whether change like this is possible.
I just read a relentlessly snarky profile of the brilliant chef Charlie Trotter. Charlie is one of the pioneers of modern cooking, a gracious host and a perfectionist as well.
The Times is disappointed that he hasn't opened chains of restaurants, made a fool of himself on reality TV or decamped to a more expensive building in Chicago. All he's done, it seems, is mentor an entire generation of chefs, consistently create amazing meals and also donate once-in-a-lifetime, multi-course dinners for rising high school students in Chicago (150 times a year).
There will always be someone telling you that you're not hip enough, famous enough, edgy enough or whatever enough. That's their agenda. What's yours?
Shun the non-believers.
There's a day (actually, two) reserved for swapping out the batteries in your smoke detector.
Perhaps today could be a day for backing up all the data you care about. All your music, say, or your passwords or your files.
If you need a hard drive, here are three. (Or be double safe and use Dropbox.) But that's not the hard part. The hard part is doing it before you go to bed tonight. And storing it at a friend's house when you're done.
If you care about it, back it up. (After I wrote this, saw this well done pre-steal).
The challenge of monetizing the web is a tricky one, but a new venture launched right here and right now is out to solve that problem.
YOU FOUND ONE. CALL US TO BUY THIS SPACE!
It's called whItespAcelInks.
VISIT OUR SNACKBAR.ORG PLEASE
There's all this unused white space on the web. Spaces in between paragraphs or links. Wasted.
ARE YOU THIRSTY? TIME FOR A SOFT DRINK.
Consumers are tired of being overwhelmed by ads and by pages that are stuffed to the gills with ads. What if the ads were invisible? What if we could insert links into the white spaces, links you didn't have to see but could still be clicked on? What if those ads were carefully targeted, location-based and mobile?
IT WORKS FOR LINKS, TOO: http://www.squidoo.com/seth
This is even better than permission marketing. It's invisible marketing.
PLEASE DON'T TELL ANYONE
In one fell swoop (does anything ever happen in two fell swoops?) we can double or triple the ad inventory of any website! And there's no need for complicated creative, because, after all, the links are invisible.
Some highlights from the funding plan:
- We will track every user, protecting privacy by never talking about the fact that we're doing it.
- We will create persistent browser tools that permit us to generate whItespAcelInks revenue even when you're not online.
- There will be no push back from regulators because the links are invisible.
- Will there be Android? Yes. There will.
- An iPad app? I can't believe you even need to ask. In fact, the iPad app will be so appy that people will pay for it by subscription.
HAVE A GOOD APRIL. DON'T TAKE ANYTHING AT FACE VALUE.
First round funding, announced today, is $11 million. We wanted to keep it modest and prove ourselves in the marketplace. The biggest challenge for us going forward is that the service only runs one day a year.