Saturday, June 30, 2007

We’re No Worse Than Anyone Else

The title is a phrase you probably recognize instantly. Tom Peters who wrote In Search of Excellence in 1982 often told the story about the company where he heard this. Everyone related to it. For example Bob Stone working in the US federal government quoted it in an excellent article on Culture Change in February 1999.

As he said:

Six years ago Vice President Gore gave me and 200 other career federal employees the chance to figure out what was wrong with the federal government and what to do about it. For us it was the chance of a lifetime, a chance to use our talents to the fullest, to let us take charge of our part of the world, to change the very culture of government, to change our work so that it would be admired and appreciated by the American people.

He went on to say:

So, based on my own credentials as a culture changer, and on the infallible authority of “Yes, Minister” and Dilbert, I can confidently contradict the other experts and say this about government: we may be risk adverse, but we’re no worse than anybody else.

Unfortunately the phrase is just as applicable now. It came to mind in reading an article on “Why Loyal Customers Are Harder to Find Today” The answer to that question seemed to be that since customers now have more choices they are more demanding. It was almost as if the problem was the customers.

You can regard this as bad news or good news. If your competitors are applying the standard of We’re no worse than anyone else, then you have a real opportunity to steal their customers. Unfortunately few companies seem to be taking this opportunity when it comes to customer service.

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