Are You On the Court or in the Stands?

I’m reading the book “Two Weeks to a Breakthrough” by Lisa Haneberg. An interesting book about being focused on a goal and working each day towards bringing it to life.

In the Day Two exercise she has a great analogy and it made me think of companies trying to bring customer service to life.

Think of a college basketball game. The players are on the court and the spectators in the stands. The conversations that the basketball players are having on the court are much different from those the spectators are having in the stands. On-court conversations are aimed at making a difference. They are active. When we speak on the court we are players. Example: “I have noticed that we are losing some great people. I’d like to put together a plan for improving the environment and development so we retain our great people and attract the best folks available. Will you participate in a brainstsorming session tomorrow?”

In-stands conversations are like water-cooler conversations. They are directed outward. Example: “Until this company changes its ways and stops treating people like disposable resources, it will continued to lose great folks.” If you want to make something happen, you need to get on the court.”

So, of course the question you have to ask yourself is “where am I, on the court or in the stands?”

You don’t have to be the boss to  offer up suggestions. In fact those on the front line, the employees actually interacting with the customers probably have the most valuable information and if they were asked for their ideas; probably could come up with some great suggestions.

As managers, we have to make it okay for our employees to come to us with suggestions. Nuture that “player” mentality. Players can come up with great suggestions for making it easier to do business with, for using social media to connect with customers and for making the customer experience even better.

Here are a few links that will help you get started tapping your “players on the court” for the best suggestions:

Employee Suggestion System

Employee Engagement through Continuous Feedback

How to Get Feedback from Employees


I Know That I’m Nothing But….

All this week the preacher at the Chautauqua Institute is the Very Rev. Alan Jones, dean emeritus, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.

In his sermon this morning he had a quote that made the congregation chuckle but perhaps the laughter was a little uncomfortable because of the truth of his statement:

“I know that I’m nothing but I’m all that I can think about.”

Just think about that for a moment. 

I have a house full of 13 year old giggly, girls today (remnants from the Twilight trilogy all nighter) and I shared the quote with them.  Their response?  “That’s SO TRUE.”  OMG

It really doesn’t matter who we are or how old we are – bottom line – we think about ourselves an awful lot.  That’s where the “what’s in it for me” and “what have you done for me lately” phrases come from.

So what does that mean for our customers?  Or for our employees?  Or our boss?

When I was a teen and obsessed over a new pimple, my Mom would say “No one will notice because they are all worried about their own pimples.”

That is still true as adults. Our customers, our employees, our vendors, our competition, our boss – they are thinking about themselves. So if we keep that in mind – it should help us in a variety of ways:

  • Putting ourselves in our customer’s shoes all of a sudden has new value
  • If the competition is thinking about themselves and their success and you think about the customer – how will that change the experience from the customer’s point of view?
  • If you remember your employees are thinking about themselves – might that change how you manage and respond to their opportunities for improvement?

If we put the customer first – understanding that they are really just thinking about themselves, their own needs, their own budget, their own problem that needs a solution – if we think like they do and recognize and respond to them – won’t we stand out in their minds as being sympathetic, empathetic, understanding and the only business they want to do business with?

I think so.

Think about this.  Have you had a conversation that just dominates your time together? You barely have a chance to get a word in edgewise except for “oh my” or “tell me more” or “how did that make you feel?”  We share nothing of ourselves. We say almost nothing.  Yet what is their memory of your time together?

“That Debbie is the best conversationalist.  I just love talking with her!”

I know I’m nothing but I’m all I can think about. 

How can you use that truth to stand out from the competition today?

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