“The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.” –Jeff Bezos
A friend of mine owns a small business and found herself in the enviable position of having excess liquid capital. Her business was currently supporting her and fed her soul, but would have been considered a flyspeck on the commercial accounts of her bank. Currently, her excess funds were sitting in a savings account drawing next to nothing in interest. Not being that familiar with investments, she asked her bank’s branch manager what the bank could do to help her money grow. The branch manager promptly replied that one of their commercial specialists would call her to discuss her options.
A week went past and then two without a peep from the bank’s specialist. My friend closed her account with that bank telling the branch manager the institution obviously didn’t have need of her funds. The bank had a chance to grow with her, and they choose not to. As far as the bank was concerned, the loss of her account appeared to be insignificant. The commercial specialist, if contacted at all, triaged his or her calls to the largest accounts first and my friend obviously drew the short straw.
“Now a promise made is a debt unpaid,” is a line penned by Robert Service in his poem “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” (Coincidentally, Service was working at a bank when he wrote that.) When we don’t deliver to a customer, we remain in their debt. Like any business, when our debt to equity ratio gets too high, there can be dire consequences.
Another similar analogy is the one of an emotional bank account. Whether we recognize it or not, when we enter into a relationship with someone, we open an emotional bank account with them. When we make more deposits than withdrawals (give to the relationship more than we take), our balance remains positive. When we make more withdrawals than deposits (take more than we give), we become “overdrawn,” and experience the associated negative consequences. We all should take some time periodically to evaluate our personal customer service debt to equity ratio, or the balances of the emotional bank accounts we have with our customers, stakeholders, and teammates.
Oh Yeah, The Customers: Accelerators
- Make a list of the people who are important to your success – clients, stakeholders, teammates, etc.
- Now, place “A+” (to denote a positive bank balance), or “A-“ (to denote a negative balance) next to their names.
- If you have outstanding debts or negative balances, clear them up as soon as possible.
Dr. Jeff D. Standridge is the best-selling author of “The Innovator’s Field Guide” and “The Top Performer’s Field Guide.” He serves as Managing Director for the Conductor and Innovation Junkie, and teaches in the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas. Jeff helps organizations and their leaders generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness and leadership. Learn more at InnovationJunkie.com.