Take the bull by the horns


You’re thinking that even as you read this. We all do…we’re so busy and stressed that anything that takes our attention and time is measured by What’s In It For Me? And, if the answer is ‘not much’ or if it takes more than a few minutes, you (like all of us) are on to the next shiny silver bauble. The task that gives you the WIIFM answer quickly or deeply is where you stay.

So, the business that answers this question for their customers, keeps those customers. Pretty simple. The exception, of course, is the business that has captive customers…I mean, if they don’t have a choice, they’ll stay because they have to. DMV? Utilities providers? You know what I’m saying.

I’ve come to believe that businesses must not really get this. And, employees don’t either. They don’t make the connection between “the work I do” and “the success of my company.” If they did, a lot more employees would really care about the service or product they provide to customers. They would want to get better because they know that customers are a fickle lot, and customers make or break. Employers would be doing everything in their power to ensure their work environments foster excited and connected employees…because connected employees make for connected customers. That means happy, loyal, returning.

The opposite is true, too: disconnected employees make for disconnected customers. Lots more employees are disconnected from their work than are connected. And, that’s bad. The facts:

**Employers lose over$750 Billion annually in work they pay for but isn’t delivered by employees.
**Employees admit to over 2 hours daily of work time wasted on things other than work. (source: Salary.com)

Come on, take the poll…WIIFYou is that you can be anonymously honest!

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, the above statistics are sobering with respect to the work of keeping customers. And, lest you think this is some kind of anomaly, The Gallup Poll people back this up. For the last 15+ years, Gallup has measured how connected people are to their work across industries, functions, levels and size of organization. The results are dismally consistent. In the U.S., for example:

**29% of employees are engaged in their work;
**55% of employees are not engaged in their work; and
**16% of employees are actively disengaged in their work.

The worst part? U.S. numbers are better than many other countries!

Look at the last two categories this way: those not engaged are “seat warmers” and those actively disengaged are “seat burners.” So, the 16% in the last group are employees who actively work to sabotage the organization. The 55% in the middle group do only what they have to with the least amount of time and effort.

Another way to look at it: for every $1 given out on payday, the organization has received in return $.29 cents of great work; $.55 cents of mediocre or half-baked work; and $.16 cents of destructive work toward keeping and growing customers.


When you care about your work, you care about your customers and how you deliver to them. When you’re engaged, you can be 30-35% more productive, and your company can see a 27% increase in profitability. This is a plus for the company and one for you…a win-win.

What can you do right now?

1. Decide that you are going to do your best work every minute of every day. That may mean listening to a customer with more empathy. It may mean offering to assist a co-worker who is involved in a challenging project. It may mean going to your manager and asking for additional work that stretches you or that no one wants. It may mean looking around and finding work that will ‘duct tape’ your customers to you and keep them coming back.

2. Look for ways to cut expenses and to get better at what you do. How can you complete your job in less time or use a better process? How can you improve the quality of what you deliver: more accurately, thoroughly, productively? How can you challenge your team to improve service delivery? Where can you cut waste by doing something differently from “the way it’s always been done”?

3. Take every opportunity to talk to your customers. Ask what it would take to be a more satisfied customer. Ask how you could do your job better. Ask if another area of your company could improve its response or quality. Then act on what they say! The only thing worse than not asking your customers is to ask them and do nothing with what they tell you.

WIIFYou? You’ll contribute to the greater good; you’ll increase your own satisfaction with your customer connections; you’ll take responsibility for work and career development; and you’ll create stability and growth for your organization.

Take the bull by the horns and everybody wins.

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