Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Many companies are not getting the planned results from their change programs.
One of the reasons for this is that the leaders think that they themselves don’t need to change. These leaders are convinced that they already incorporate the right behavior. Therefore they demand that all the other managers and employees do change.

This sends a wrong signal to all these people. To make change easier it is very stimulating to have an example, someone who is the personification of the new behavior, of the new way of working.
Many of us have examples (heroes) in our personal lives, like Leonardo Da Vinci (‘that is my example’), Mother Teresa, Michael Jordan or Beyoncé.

The same logic applies to our professional lives. It is much easier to face a challenging change when there is an example, when the leader is showing you the path.
Some years ago when I did work for an American company there was a security threat and we had to wear our badges visibly all the time. This is some kind of nuisance, because you have to put them on your coat and then on your suit and then on your shirt. But. Still you have to do it. What happened was that leaders apparently didn’t like this either, so they didn’t wear the badges at all. Guess what happened, all the employees stopped wearing them also.

If you as a leader require a certain change or a certain new behavior than you have to be aware that you are the living proof, the living example yourself. In this way your own credibility as well as that of the change itself increases significantly.

Are you an example, all the time?


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Tuesday, March 22, 2011


More than 85% of Western economies are service economies.

Isn’t it therefore strange that many organizations have a separate Customer Service department?
Does this mean that only that department provides service to the customer?
Does it mean that other departments are not caring about customers?

There is no doubt that you have to put the customer at the core of all your service activities. Service Design can help you with that process.
If you do that, then for example the finance department also provides customer service when they answer questions related to an invoice.
And your sales folks are also representative for the service, which you (can) provide to those customers.

Essentially EVERYONE is providing Customer Service. This should be both a mindset and an activity of all departments.

If you follow this logic than the (current) Customer Service department has to be renamed.
How about giving them a name which relates to their actual activities, like Telephone Support, or On-site Support, or ...?

What are your suggestions?


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Tuesday, March 15, 2011


This weekend I did participate in the Rotterdam ‘Global Service Jam’. This is the intention of the Jam:

….., people interested in service and customer experience will meet all over  the globe. In a spirit of experimentation, co-operation and friendly competition, teams will have 48 hours to develop brand new services inspired by a shared theme.

It was great and fun to do and also very interesting to meet people from all over the world (Colombia, Australia, Mexico, Germany).

What are the key learnings?
-       It is possible to design cool new services in 48+ hours. Key is to have dedicated focus.
-       The team should be really diverse, i.e. have people with different education, experience, interests, culture and age.
-       Have the meeting in a ‘neutral’ environment, i.e. in a place where the daily operations are not interfering.
-       Skills in human interaction and team dynamics are key for the team.
-       Young people have incredible qualities in making services tangible by means of videos, cartoons, logos, designs and visualizing The Customer Journey.
-       And as Graham Hill already mentioned,: No matter how creative your service design, it is doomed if it doesn't have a workable business model.

This experience triggers a new idea. I do think it is possible to have a flying squad (like Doctors Without Borders), which you can bring in to accelerate your service design efforts.
Of course employees from the organization need to participate as well to provide the context.

What are your thoughts?


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Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Ego prevents idea generation

Last week I did hear a couple of stories from frustrated employees. They were frustrated because their managers didn’t listen to their input. As a matter of fact they didn’t listen to the input from any of the employees.
Why? Because they have the habit of only listening to themselves, to their own ego. They are convinced that their own ideas are always better. In that case, the employees feel that there is no respect for them and they stop bringing up new ideas.
This is killing for both the individual and for the organizations. So, if you want more ideas and more innovation, start listening (with an open mind) to your people!

Control prohibits trust

Managers with big egos have the tendency to exert a lot of control. As they only trust themselves, they want to know about everything that their direct reports are doing. They want to monitor all their activities at close range.
The result is that the employees don’t feel trusted and that they will only come up with solutions, which they think that their boss likes. They will only do what is ‘politically correct’. This very tight level of control never leads to having any game-changing ideas or solutions.
And again, this is sad for both the individual as well as the organization.

Both cases urge managers to be more open to the ideas and suggestions from their people. And you, the boss, have to start first with showing that trust.
Trust me it will make your life much easier and much more fun. And your employees will love you for doing that.


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Thursday, March 3, 2011


There is a lot being written about social media, either from a customer’s perspective or from a Corporation’s perspective. I would say that a ProPer (Professional as well as Personal) use of social media benefits both.

As a customer I had a negative experience of selling my shares, via the web as well as via a call line. It was nearly impossible to talk to a human being, as I reported in my last post.
I did mention this experience on my Twitter feed. What was great is that their Communications Manager responded quickly to that tweet and offered her help.

This is nice. All other support channels failed, so I was really happy that I got in touch with a person who was willing to help and who was in a position to follow up. So, this fantastic medium (in this case Twitter) enabled me to be in direct contact with an executive. Previously (when then was no social media) this would have been impossible.

I did explain my issue and mentioned my previous blogpost. She was very open and willing to listen. After a week she came back to me and informed me that they changed their call line. There is now an extra option added where you can get direct contact with a customer service representative.

This is really good! And in this case there are two winners, as both the customer and the Corporation benefit. The call line process is now more tuned to active customer needs.

Are you making ProPer use of social media?


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