Setting the tone

I was talking to a company… well, that’s not true… I was talking to the employees of a company and wasn’t having much luck.

I called (twice) with no response. It wasn’t until the third call that I got through to someone. Not the someone I wanted, so I left a message, asking for the person I needed to call back. Guess what…

Nope, you’re quite wrong. I didn’t get a call at all.

So, I called again and got through to the right person. I asked my question and was told… ‘Call the help desk.’

Hmmm…

At the same time I was dealing with anther company. I asked to speak with the boss, who wasn’t available. But the person I talked to asked if they could help. When I explained the situation, she told me she could sort me out. Which she did!

She didn’t have to do it, but she did.

Now, this got me thinking. Both businesses are pretty similar, so why was my experience so different?

I dug a bit deeper!

Without being really scientific about it, it seemed to me it came down to the boss. The tone set in each business was entirely different.

In business number one, the boss was standoffish, aloof (is that the same thing?), and hadn’t really created a customer care culture. In fact, there was quite a severe blame culture. This meant that the team were very insular in the way they went about their work… they weren’t prepared to help anyone out, just in case they got blamed… for something.

On the other hand, the second business had a different culture. When I visited it was about 6.30 in the evening and the staff were still in the office, eating pizza. Apparently they had volunteered to work late to shift some work and the boss was right there mucking in and buying tea.

When I questioned them further the staff admitted that the boss was 100% focussed on customer service and that if they had to drop a piece of work to look after a customer, then that was okay, as long as the slack was taken up elsewhere.

As a result the team worked well together and looked after the people they came into contact with.

This story is a fantastic example of a ‘culture’ working as a blocker to business, in other words being commercially damaging. On the other side of the coin we have a culture that is a commercial enabler.

And who said culture wasn’t important.

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