A few years back I was at lunch with a mentor and there was something we needed or wanted that we had to ask for. The waiter replied somewhat along the lines of: “Well, we’re not supposed to do that, but I’ll go ahead and do that for you.”
We thanked him, but after he walked away, my mentor turned to me and surprisingly said, “what poor form for him to say that.” When I asked what he meant—after all, I was glad he’d singled us out for special attention—he explained, “so what, now we’re in his debt? Like he’s done us a favor?” […]
One of my favorite Process Engineering tools is the Five Whys. The basic principle is to consider a problem or imperfection, ask why it’s the way it is, and then ask why that explanation is so. We keep digging (as the title suggests, five times, but your mileage may vary) until we’ve uncovered the true root cause of an issue. The idea here is to work toward better understanding what’s behind a problem rather than simply fixing the facial, obvious symptoms. This aids in efficiency as we’re less prone to waste our time simply swatting at proverbial flies but rather identifying an underlying failure, fixing it, and thereby avoiding further deficiencies.
Now, as with any tool, it can be overused or misapplied. Some folks will barge into a problem-solving situation, claim to ask “Why?” five times, and call themselves heroes for having broken through the “it’s how we’ve always done it” mentality. Nice try, but the Five Whys is more than just seeming to be an iconoclast or dynamic thinker. If you’re only asking “Why” rhetorically or just to be snarky or look like the smartest person in the room, it’s likely you’ll miss the whole point. The purpose of asking “Why” is actually two-fold: to search earnestly for the root cause, but also to better understand the systems that are currently in place and, well, why they’re there (the jobs they were intended to accomplish). […]
Executive escalations can be a real life-saver for an organization. Whether it’s a high-profile Customer or just someone whose experience has gone completely off the rails, sometimes escalating dramatically can truly save the day for CX. I recently had an experience that was saved by an executive escalation. I happen to know a Senior Director at a service provider that had recently disrupted its service, potentially causing a serious problem for me. He’s in CX too, and as a benefit of swimming in these waters, I was able to reach out to him directly and ask for help. As you’d guess, my issue was handled with great effectiveness and speed.
But that experience got me to wondering: what if I hadn’t ‘known people’? When I worked for a corporation in the Customer Support organization, we had an executive escalations team that was top-notch, filled with professional problem-solvers who had all the tools at their disposal with which to address any issue our Customers may have. They were a well-oiled team, run by one of the best senior managers I’ve seen. But as with any other organization, there are a few inherent risks with executive escalations and how we handle them. […]
“You’re soaking in it.” Do you remember that commercial for dishwashing soap that was supposed to be so incredibly good for your skin that the lady who’d gone in (to see Madge, remember?) for a manicure was unknowingly enjoying its benefits, thinking she was dipping her fingers into some wonderful skin tonic? Or have you heard the concept of fish not realizing they’re wet because they’re surrounded by water? […]