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Who's your real boss?!

The place: Customer Service call center The time: Thursday 9:32pm A dreary representative watches his favorite episode of “Friends” on his iPhone waiting for his shift to end. Suddenly the phone rings. A customer on the other side of the line sounds distressed a bit. The rep takes the details and tells the customer he will go search for the resolution and will update her as soon as possible. He hangs up the phone and immediately....goes back to “Friends”.

7 minutes go by and the same customer calls again asking politely whether there was any progress with her request as she is somewhat stranded and needs that resolution. The fairly unmoved rep promises he will update as soon as he hears anything, he hangs up only to get through the 11 more minutes of Rachel fighting with Ross.

At that moment, his boss walks in the room. The rep changes his demeanor immediately. The boss who is not aware of the ongoing of course asks the rep for a status report. The rep says: “I am literally now taking care of a customer, give me 3 minutes and I will sit down and share with you my report”. He then clicks a couple of clicks on his keyboard, makes a quick call and gets back to the customer letting her know he resolved the issue for her and she can be assured all is taken cared of.

We all seem to have that innate respect, admiration to our superiors (unless of course you don’t like your boss and that’s a completely different story). Whether it comes from the overall cultural aspect of respecting the elderly, the higher management or perhaps from that built in fear of losing your job. One way or another, got me thinking.

How come, when the customer called at first, the rep did not immediately jump on his feet and went to take care of the issue? How come the customer’s need did not spark that same change of demeanor the boss did by simply walking into the room. I went to check something. I asked 77 people, waiters, sales reps, customer success managers, IT managers and one nurse a simple question - Who is paying your salary?

64 replied: my boss/employer/company 64!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 6 replied I am not sure and 5 customer!

Boom! Only 5! Five. Only five realized that the ones actually paying their salary are their customers. The notion and the understanding that the company’s revenue, all of it, comes from our customers should position us the employees in such a manner that when the phone rings we perk up and NOT when our boss walks in. When a potential customer fills in the Contact Us form on our website you call them up....NOW!!! Not in 3 days. And when a customer wants to pay you, you make it AS EASY as possible without limiting them to just this credit card or we only take cash. And for the love of god, if your customer calls you and they need something, please, for the sake of human race, pick up!!

"There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else." Sam Walton

As an organization, if we all adopt this notion and understanding, our entire staff, everyone will understand that our real boss is our customer. And while I am not a big fan of the statement that the customer is always right, still - we work for them.

I attended a conference last week where one of the presenters raised an interesting thought - when you setup YOUR goals, are these goals aligned with YOUR CUSTOMERS’ goals?

If we remind ourselves every day who our real boss is and create the company’s DNA around this understanding, perhaps next time I ask there will be more than 5 realizing that.

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