Let’s Not Kid Ourselves – Results Matter

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We’ve probably all experienced it — the phone call we have to make to some huge organization because we need assistance of some kind. If we’re lucky, there will be a live human being to talk to at the end of the seemingly endless recorded options. Recently, I had to call a very large insurance company. I was filled with confidence, as I’ve discovered the power of the speakerphone. The freedom was a beautiful thing as I went about my tasks hands-free and within earshot of the phone in case the voice on the other end came to life. 

The company was very forthcoming. “Wait times are averaging 12 minutes,” the voice said, and sure enough, the voice was right! The good news is, I got a very pleasant lady on the phone who just gushed customer service and seemed very sincere. She was knowledgeable and knew how to fix my problem. She edited paperwork and emailed me a new document in literally 20 minutes. She thanked me profusely for my business and asked more than once if I needed anything else. Boy, I thought, this is awesome! Then my new document arrived. It was wrong in about three places — and this was a document that could not be wrong or I would be paying unnecessary fees.

Back to square one, on my trusty speakerphone, I persevered for another 12- minute wait. Now I had to be a snitch and tell my new customer service agent what occurred. Again I received excellent verbal customer service and this time, it was followed up by a good result. I had an accurate document sent to me. As I did the customer service evaluation that followed, some thoughts associated with servant leadership came to mind and I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. You can be as nice as can be, but results still matter. I certainly appreciated being treated well and regarded as a valued customer, but the end result would have created more problems for me. The question a servant leader asks is: are people better off after coming in contact with you? If the results are poor, then no, people are not better off after dealing with any organization.

  2. Are we focusing so hard on verbal niceties that we’re ignoring accurate processes? In the phone evaluation I submitted, I asked if perhaps the process they have is faulty or they’re rushing their employees to process calls and forgetting checks and balances. Do they need to slow down for accuracy’s sake? Most of the time when we have errors in our systems, it’s not a people problem, it’s a process problem. As servant leaders, we need to look at the whole picture and take the time to look at all the factors involved.

  3. “How you get results is more important as the results themselves.” This is a principle that SLI founder and CEO Art Barter teaches wherever he goes. Results in a servant-led organization are just as important as in any organization or there will be no company to serve. We can’t serve employees or customers if we’re not producing results. But we’re all accountable for how we get results in our organizations. To get good results as a servant leader, we must have good processes and treat our employees with dignity and respect. We must invite them to the table and give them a “say,” not just a seat.

My adventure with the insurance organization is certainly not unique; experiences like this are daily occurrences. Let’s use them to our advantage by seeing them as a mirror into how we respond to them and examine our own teams and organizations. Are our processes serving employees well? And in turn, are employees serving our customers well? The answer will be found in our results.