Customer service is a topic that strikes a chord (often a sour note) with many. Some industries, such as air travel and cable / internet providers, are riddled with complaints about poor customer service. Their reputations for mistreating customers are the stuff of nightmarish legends. Other industries or companies are known for their excellent customer service. Apple. Ritz Carlton. Mercedes Benz. These companies consistently provide customers with five-star service. In fact, Ritz Carlton prides itself on delivering six-star service! Regardless of what a company does, builds, makes or provides, the ability to meet the needs of the client or customer is key.
However, if you ask most business people to identify their ‘customers’ or ‘clients’, 99% will inevitably point to the folks spending money to purchase their products or services. Those are the ‘external customers’. Most will not identify their own colleagues and coworkers as ‘customers.’ But, indeed, many of the people who work for a mid-sized or large company don’t actually deal with the external customers or clients who are buying the products or services. Most of the staff of any company are actually ‘behind-the-scenes’, cogs in the machinery that allow companies to function, such as accounting, marketing, HR, IT, production and operations. These people seldom, if ever, speak to or meet an external client or customer. Instead, they provide services that make it possible for others in the company to meet the needs of the external customer. They service the ‘internal customer.’ Unfortunately, internal customer service is even more replete with bad service. Yet, the internal customer is as important as the external customer. Why is that and how does one go about improving a company’s internal customer service?
Walk down any busy street in America and you are likely to see people crossing the street while texting. In any break room, you’ll see people eating lunch while using their smart phones to check social media sites. In most offices, you’ll see people having phone conversations with colleagues or customers while simultaneously surfing the web or writing an email. Some might even have two different cell phones, one to each ear, while talking to yet a third person in person. (This is not an urban legend. I’ve witnessed it.)
Dubbed ‘multitasking’, the ability to do two or more things at the same time is considered a plus in many jobs and essential for some occupations. Indeed, many employers talk about multi-tasking like it’s a good thing. There are very few occupations where multi-tasking would be frowned upon. Perhaps brain surgeon or race car driver. Otherwise, the ability to juggle multiple projects, tasks, or even conversations simultaneously is regarded as increasingly valuable by employers. But is it truly a good thing? And is multitasking even real? Can the human brain really multi-task? If not, what is really going on when a person is doing two or three or four things at once? And how does this impact their productivity and precision?
Pride is one of those puzzling traits that is seen at times as a positive and sometimes as a negative. On the one hand, we are encouraged to be proud of our accomplishments. Training seminars tout the need to take pride in the work we do. From a very young age, we are told that we should be proud to be Americans. We are expected to be proud of our accomplishments and of the accomplishments of our children and family. We hear things like: “Show some pride!” “Stand Up for yourself!” “Walk tall!” “Don’t be a doormat!” “Be proud of who you are!” “Stick out your chest and hold your head high!”
On the other hand, haughty pride is seen as the opposite of the spirit of humility. The proud are seen as so blinded by their pride that they think there is no higher power. So is pride a quality or a flaw? For example, is it wrong for an Olympic athlete to know they’re good at their sport? What is the dividing line between recognizing the truth about oneself and being prideful? Is it okay to have pride in one’s work or be proud of one’s accomplishments? How does pride impact a person’s work? Where is the line between being appropriately culturally confident and being prideful? Continue reading