Organisations are layer cakes. There is a long way between the cherries on the top and the damp base at the bottom.
Answer these 9 questions to align yourself in the cake and find out what that means for you and your customer.
1. Who do you want to impress most today, A: your customer or B: your boss?
If your answer is B, what would your boss answer to this question? And their boss? Continue up the line until you find someone who truthfully answers A. Every layer between them and the customer isn’t working and that is the fault of the layer above.
2. Look out your door, along your desk, at your inbox or at your last phone call. Can you see the customer? If not, is this a common effect of a career going well in your organisation? Is this a common cause of the customer suffering bad service? Is this considered a bad thing for anyone in your organisation to point out?
3. How many layers are there between you and the customer? How many layers are there between you and the person who ultimately pays the money for your salary? (The answer is these are both the same, but the people who handle the money between you and the customer don’t know that.)
4. Do people use the phrases A:“front line” B: “back office” and C: “strategic level”? If a customer was found wandering round where B or C are located, would someone call security?
5. Are customers safely corralled into customer service centres to ensure that the work of the organisation does not suffer interruptions?
6. Are purpose and priorities safely corralled into strategic plans to ensure that the work of the organisation does not suffer interruptions?
7. Does your boss talk about A: the contents of a plan that you are supposed to work to or B: the customer who you are supposed to work for ? If the answer is A, you are not working to a plan but for it.
8. Can you spend at least a week doing strategic or support work without seeing the customer once? If so the customer probably doesn’t want to pay your wages and they are probably right.
9. Do you worry most about A: your customer or B: your boss? Who do you wish would go somewhere far away from you? If the answer is B, then ultimately your customer will go somewhere far away from both you and your boss. Unless you work in the public sector, when the customer will only wish that they could.