August 27. 2012
One of the biggest things that any company has to overcome, whether you are a small business or a large multi-national corporation is getting rid of the sacred cows. If you can’t get rid of that way of thinking, you’ll never get out of your own way to be successful, especially if you’re a small business.
Part of this is the customer ‘no’ service attitude that is so prevalent in the world today. ‘I can’t do that, but I’ll transfer you to???? and maybe they can help you!’ After waiting for an hour on hold or in a ‘waiting room’, you still haven’t gotten a resolution or even found someone who can take responsibility for helping you solve the problem!
Part of this attitude is that many companies don’t trust their employees to make an arrangement with customers without giving away the store. I agree that trusting someone in a call center to make a good decision may not be the smartest thing to do, but how do you know until you try. That is a sacred cow that everyone can do without I think – along with voice menu systems that drag on forever, anyway I digress.
Sacred Cows, if you don’t know, are those things that every business absolutely states that they can’t do without. Or the fact that we’ve always done it that way and it works – never mind that it works against the customer and not for them. Or the all too famous ‘If we do that, then someone might get into trouble!’
As a small business owner or even an employee or manager in a small business, you have to convince yourself or your bosses, that the sacred cows need to be shot, butchered, and grilled for Labor Day, 4th of July, Memorial Day, or Its Friday Day! Think out of the box and be creative.
Don’t just think of a good idea, run it through with your own analysis to see if it it’ll work! Don’t over analyze, but give it a ‘good look see’. If it’s feasible then do it.
Nothing in the business world is ever 100% guaranteed to be successful. Heaven knows, I’ve made my share of bad mistakes and decisions. But if you are afraid to take the risk and get rid of those sacred cows then you’ll never be successful. And this also means that you can’t necessarily follow what others have done or even your industry association or organization. What works for one may not work for you. Be prepared to plow your own field!
In security and others, there are many sets of guidelines and papers on which you’re supposed to follow thru with those ideas. The same holds true for the government, there is no latitude when it comes to changing something because it won’t work for your area of the country or what you need completed.
I’m not saying that issuing guidelines and regulations are not good things. The problem is those people, companies, & agencies that can’t or won’t see the problem with changing something that isn’t going to work. And so many times, they won’t even look at the problem with them to see those issues.
I’ve worked with many people in every single sector of the economy in my career. From hospitality (security, housekeeping, & front desk) to service (call centers, security, fast food, and others) to sales (coupon books and cars), not to mention the clients with all of the ‘guard’ companies I’ve labored for. Only one of them was progressive enough to allow any thinking outside the box to solve problems.
Clients, co-workers, vendors, & managers all were set in their ways like a 90 year old Ebenezer Scrooge or Josef Stalin. They refused to change anything in their way of thinking because they ideas were the sacred cows of the organization.
Many times, I’ve discovered what worked in New York City doesn’t work in Mission Kansas. And what worked in Kansas City doesn’t work just up the road in St. Joseph – 50 miles away! What worked in St. Joseph doesn’t necessarily work in Savannah or Maryville Missouri (just 10 and45 miles up the road!)
What the company, managers, and everybody else need’s to do is change the way they look at things. Just because it didn’t work 2 years ago, doesn’t mean it won’t work now. The world changes fast and we have to change with it or fail.
Many multi-national companies are so large they believe that no matter what they do they’ll make money. And in some cases that’s true. Since Sam Walton died 20 some years ago, Wal-Mart has continued to grow, but they changed, For the worse! Their customer service definitely falls in with the idea of the customer ‘no-service’ arena.
When you need someone to help you find something, there is never anyone around. If you find someone to help, then they have no clue what you want or where to find it. And trust me if you’re blind like me it’s twice as hard to get help. You call to get info and you hang on hold for 10 minutes and then the person who answers has an accent so thick you can’t understand it – and I’m not talking about a foreign one!
To Wal-Mart, customer service is one of those sacred cows. They proclaim to have great people willing to help in any way they can. Therefore, the refuse to change anything in their approach to customer service, bringing themselves and the company into the realm of customer no-service. Sam Walton must be rollin in his grave!
So how does a business get rid of the sacred cows and change the operations to make it better? You have to start with analyzing every aspect of the operation. I literally mean everything, from the ordering and delivery process to hiring the right people (no WBS please warm body syndrome), to discipline, store set up, how many people on duty at a time, and checking people out at the cash register.
Is there anything in your processes that you can do without? It doesn’t really matter whether it saves you time or money not doing it. What does matter is the fact that you streamline and improve the processes and procedures.
Look at your policy and procedures manual. Anything that hasn’t been updated for at least 5 years needs to be looked at and analyzed. When I worked for Allied Security in the mid 90’s, our policy & procedures manual was thick. Unfortunately, many of those policies were 15 -20 years old! And when asked why they weren’t updated or tossed out? The answer was astounding.
The exact quote from my branch manager was ‘Because we haven’t been told to. And besides they still work and apply, why re-write them?’ I then loaned him by book ‘If it Ain’t Broke, Break It’. Shortly after that I began receiving bad assignments and never really got up where I wanted to be. But I still live by that philosophy.
I certainly forget the writer and it can’t be found on audio books, it is after all 20 some years old. But I loved that book and still do. It has taught me to get rid of sacred cows and go it alone. I believed in that before I read the book, but then I had an industry magnate telling me it was okay!
Throw out the CW. Toss those old tired ideas out the window into the dumpster. Try something new and exciting. The worse that can happen is that you fail. So what you fail, it’s something we all need to do once in a while to keep us humble!
Send me your sacred cow stories and how you either slaughtered them for the weekend or how you improved your customer service attitude in your business or workplace. I’m interested to know how many companies actually do away with sacred cows – especially large companies i.e. hospitals, grocery stores, & so on.
Questions, comments, suggestions, seminars? Give me a call or write!