Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Recently i did receive a card, which mentioned that on the 17th of March a preventive maintenance call was scheduled for my heating system. There was no time mentioned.
As I was abroad at that time I did call for a new meeting. Okay, that was scheduled, but they only could plan the call in the morning (8am – 1pm) or in the afternoon (1.30pm – 4.45pm). They said that it was not possible to give me a more specific time.
Well. That is very inconvenient for me as a customer, because I have to block these slots entirely in my agenda.

So, the call was scheduled for the morning of the 26th. Fortunately the engineer arrived at 8.15pm. I asked him whether all his calls were planned for that day. His response was that all appointments were scheduled.

A simple question remains: why do they not share this planning with their customers?? They could contact me shortly before the appointment and tell me when exactly the engineer will arrive. That will give me so much more flexibility in my own agenda. And it gives me a good customer experience.

This is a typical example of ‘inside-out’ thinking. But isn’t this planning being made for the customer in the first place? So, put your customer central in your planning efforts and inform them upfront, just like you do with your own employees!


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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Last Sunday I had a stopover at the airport of Frankfurt, as I was flying from Ahmedabad in India to Amsterdam. I already had a boarding pass for my flight to Amsterdam and the gate was B7 at Frankfurt airport. We were early and our flight did not appear yet on the monitor, so I asked the customer service repr when my flight would be put on the screen. She said that her collegues would arrive in half an hour and then everyting should be okay.

However, no customer service reps showed up and my flight was not mentioned on the monitor of the gate. So, I checked the general monitors in the hall and there was no mention of my flight at all...  I went to another gate and asked them to help me. It appeared so that my flight was boarding from a completely different gate.  Fortunately we reached that gate in time.

From a customer service point of view, they should have informed us via the monitors on the ‘old’ gate and via the announcement system. This is failrly easy to implement and doesn’t need any additional manpower.

So, if you change anyting internally which impacts your customers, make sure that you inform your customers accordingly!


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Tuesday, March 2, 2010


In his book Rules of Thumb, Alan Webber writes that change is a math formula. Change happens when the cost of the status quo is greater than the risk of change:


This is valid both at a personal level and at a professional level. And of course at an individual level as well as at an organizational level.

At a more persona level Anais Nin says the same:

And the day came when the risk it took to remain in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

Another rule which is essential in this respect:

I cannot change other people or the past. I can only change myself.

Now lets see how these rules of changes have worked out in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Here in The Netherlands the whole country was depressed by the disqualification of Sven Kramer at the 10 km speed skating. His coach publicly admitted that he had made3 a mistake and that he had sent Sven to the wrong lane. That is a professional reaction and he showed to be very vulnerable as well. Sven on the other hand was very angry on his coach. “Because he made a mistake, I did miss my gold medal”. But is that really the case? I would say no. Sven is the skater and he himself is totally responsible for his performance. He should have known that his coach was wrong. He should have followed his own inner knowing.

This happens frequently and many people get away with it. You can blame others for not being successful yourself. Now there are speculations in the press that Sven wants a new coach for the new season. This is not the solution (for that particular topic), as Sven needs to look inside and take full responsibility for his own performance. He has to change to be included in the list of the greatest skaters on earth,

In the same team there is also a woman skater. Pauline van Deutekom, (former world champion), who is over-trained, so she could not participate at all. It looks like that those two events are now challenging the status quo and the coaches will review their training practices.

Another example is the four man bobsleigh team. The driver, Erwin van Calcar, had crashed some days before in the two man bobsleigh. He had a lot of fear, especially that he would be responsible for the health of the other people in his team. His fear was so strong that he decided not to compete at all. He felt that he was not up to the challenge.

He received a lot of negative reactions from his coach and from the chairman of the bobsleigh federation. Nevertheless he was very courageous and he stick to his decision. This is an example of a professional who takes responsibility himself. He did not let others influence him. I think that he was very brave to do so. He was right that the track was too dangerous, because there were many accidents. So, it is not Erwin who has to change, but the officials. Their behavior was not dignified at all. We have to support people who take 100% responsibility for their own performance.


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