Balancing Processes, You, and the Customer

Creating and running a business is not easy work.

You have competing demands of your time, attention, and energy.

Success increases that competition.

Success increases the demands.

You start to grow.

You start to expand.

Things start to break.

The old ways are not enough.


Processes are created and updated.

Processes start to build the right foundation: forms, agreements, and structure.

Processes are designed to make things more uniform, more streamlined.

Processes are meant to free up time and energy.


You need increased capacity.

You start to discover and learn your own style, skills, and “highest and best use.”

You are good at some things.

You are not so good at other things.

You may need to give some things away to others.

The Customer.

The Customer likes what you have to offer.

The Customer still remembers when they took the risk on you.

The Customer likes how they used to connect with you.

The Customer wants to continue without a lot of disruptive change.

Balancing Processes, You and the Customer can be a challenge.

Some Processes can upset the Customer.

You may resist the Processes because it feels confining.

The Processes may put a little distance between You and the Customer.

The Customer may always want to speak directly to You.

Building and scaling a business is not easy.

Sometimes we spend too much time focusing on just one of the areas.

When we focus only on Processes – we unleash rules, policies, and procedures that can choke off flexibility and creativity.

When we focus only on You – we can get lost in self-reflection, doubt, and self-criticism.

When we focus only on the Customer – we suffer, compromise, and become spread too thin.

Balancing Processes, You and the Customer is even harder when you grow.

What Processes do You really need? Which make our jobs easier with the least impact to the Customer, and the largest return on time/energy for You?

Where should You be spending the bulk of your time?

What does the Customer really want from You and any Processes?

As you scale, remember to ask questions and regularly spend time thinking about all three.

Making the Customer Do the Work: Another Flawed Strategy

Customer Service

(Image Courtesy of touch

During a conversation about the salad post, someone shared yet another flawed strategy in customer service.

The details.

Repair person comes to the house.

Repair person doesn’t have the right part.

Person at business office didn’t order the right part or write order correctly.

Person at business office says it will be a week or so to order the right part.

Repair person leaves.

Customer wasted their time for the appointment.

Customer must now wait for an undetermined amount of time.

Customer must now call again once the part has arrived to make another appointment.

The Strategy.

I am busy.

I made an error.

I said I would order the right part this time.

I have to go.

I am busy.

I have other large repairs to do.

I will get back to you when I can.

I will wait for you to call before I come back.

I am busy.

The Flaw.

You made the mistake.

But you insist on making the customer do the work.

You have to order the new part.

But you do not find the exact date it will arrive.

You are busy and have other customers to see.

But you make the customer in front of you feel less important.

You need to reschedule.

But you do not set a date on the spot, and expect the customer to call you again once the part arrives.

The Solution.

When you make a mistake: acknowledge your mistake.

When you make a mistake: make the correction easy, painless, and seemless.

When you make a mistake: do not make the customer do the work.

Good Lost None Bad

Good, Lost, None, and Bad

For some reason, I have been thinking about the hierarchy of certain things. Thinking about how to classify particular relationships, friends, jobs, bosses, employees, customers, and connections in a way that brings perspective.

Good describes things that are positive and contribute to you and your wellbeing.

Lost describes things that were once Good, but have left or been removed from your life.

None describes things that have never been part of your life.

Bad describes things that are negative and erode your life.

Why do we need this hierarchy?

Frankly, Good is easy. If all of our things fell into this category the rest of the list would not be needed. We would be and have good parents, friends, relationships, employees, bosses, and customers. By classifying the Good, at least we have something to strive towards.

The Lost, None, and Bad is where things can become less clear.

Lost can be hard. We had it: a marriage, a parent, a relationship, a friend, a job, a boss, or a customer. It was Good, now it has been Lost. The temptation is to classify this as Bad. A Lost parent, boss, friend, or employee is much better than a Bad one. We were able to experience the Good. We feel grief because it was Lost. Despite being Lost, we have the memories and experiences of what was once Good.

None is tricky. None may masquerade as Bad. Not having that parent, relationship, friend, job, or customer actually feels Bad. But None is not the same as Bad. None has plenty of its share of emptiness and loneliness, but that is a far cry from the negative destruction that Bad can bring.

Bad at first glance is easy. Bad encompasses all of the negative and harmful things. However, Bad is not satisfied with being at the bottom of this hierarchy. Bad wants you to believe that there are only two classifications: Good and Bad. Bad wants a more simple definition: If this thing is not Good (all the time and consistently and forever), it is Bad.

A Lost [parent, job, relationship, spouse, employee, customer, or boss] is better than None.  None is not actively destructive like a Bad [parent, job, relationship, spouse, employee, customer, or boss].

Does having a few ways to classify these things be helpful? How could separating out the Lost and the None from the Bad provide some additional peace or freedom?

Not all events that you currently face, or that shaped and define you are Bad.

Bad likes to take all the credit.

As we strive for more Good in life, don’t let Bad fool you into thinking that Bad is all that remains. Sometimes Lost, and even None, are not so Bad when they are in perspective and in their respective hierarchy.

Internal Customers

Customer Service Word CloudA few weeks ago, I was teaching a customer service class. One of the exercises split the group into small teams and they were asked to identify all of their customers. The lists grew, and the flip charts filled.

As I walked from group to group, I began to notice something. All of the lists were outwardly focused. I stayed quiet, but kept walking around the room. The lists continued and so did the focus outside of their organization.

Focusing on the outside customer is not a bad thing. We all need the customers outside of our organization. However, once the teams got up to present their lists to the rest of the room, they realized that there was an entire customer base they had missed. They missed their internal customers.

The teams went back to their lists. The lists rapidly grew and so did the realization. These various organizations or departments didn’t exist by themselves. Each team had an array of departments, individuals, or people that they provide customer service within their own operation. Some realized that a majority of their work is providing service to internal customers.

One team in particular had an interesting observation.

“We wonder if our continued focus outside, and essentially ignoring our internal customers, is a major reason why our external customers are not completely satisfied.”

That observation hit home with all of the teams. As we set customer service goals later in the session, each team began with goals to increase their internal customers’ satisfaction first, before tackling the other customers.

As I drove home from this session, I began to make my list of internal customers. The list included my co-workers, other departments, my wife, my kids, my family, and my friends. As I set goals for my external customer’s satisfaction, I also wrote down a few goals for my internal customers.

We all have internal customers. Do we focus on them? Spend a few minutes today making a list of your internal customers. A little focus internally may be just what we need to be better externally.

The “I’ll be right there” people

Recently I noticed an interesting group of people. These people interact with those around them in a noticeably different way. These people differ in a lot of ways. Some of them are in business or sales, some provide a service, others are just friends to others.

They have one distinct common characteristic: they are “I’ll be right there” people.

“I’ll be right there” people are people who understand the larger relationships at stake, no matter what their role. “I’ll be right there” people answer the call for help or service to meet a need. “I’ll be right there” people help others despite their job description or their pay scale. “I’ll be right there” people are not put off at your request, they see it as an opportunity to connect with you instead.

Imagine the result when your clients consider you an “I’ll be right there” consultant.

Imagine the result when your customers consider you an “I’ll be right there” salesperson.

Imagine the result when your employees consider you an “I’ll be right there” boss.

Imagine the result when your communities consider you an “I’ll be right there” citizen.

Imagine the result when your kids consider you an “I’ll be right there” parent.

Imagine the result when your friends consider you and “I’ll be right there” friend.

Today, instead of just imagining what it would be like, listen for the next request and simply reply…“I’ll be right there.”