When my brother, sister and I were growing up our dad encouraged us to be what he called “mudders”. By mudders he meant being people who were willing to get down in the mud and do the hard work. Every time I heard him say the word mudder I’d have this mental picture of wearing overalls, putting on big rubber boots, and digging a ditch after it rained.
In addition to valuing hard work I believed part of my dad intention was to help us understand that no work was beneath us, even manual, dirty labor, if it adds value to the lives of others.
These two complimentary attitudes – valuing hard work and believing no good work is ever below us – speaks to people at every level in an organization because every job has boring, menial and mundane parts to it. If we approach these parts of our jobs as mudders it encourages us to do this work with both timeliness and quality, and it keeps us from allowing the boring work to drag us down.
Being a mudder is especially critical in customer focused organizations. Because at any given moment one of our staff members can be asked by a customer (they don’t usually care about title and position) for assistance that requires manual or menial work. And of course outstanding customer service requires that staff be willing, with a sincere smile, no matter the job, to help the customer.
More importantly, as leaders, when we’re willing to be mudders, we set an example for everyone in the organization. If we embrace doing the purposeful but menial and dirty work as much as the exciting and challenging work, we help those we lead also become mudders. And a team of mudders doing all the necessary work, including the menial, dirty and mundane jobs assures that all organization’s work gets done and done well.43.928283-85.286682
You know it when you’ve interacted with a business or organization that has a serious focus on their customers and constituents. You feel as if you’ve interacted with someone who knows and understands you, your needs and wants. It’s almost like you’re an old friend. These are the organizations that you come back to over and over, and recommend to your family and friends.
These organizations have what we call at SpringHill a “Customer Focus”. And being customer focused isn’t just good for business; we believe its, plain and simple, the right way to treat people. Thus being “Customer Focused” is a critical quality all SpringHill staff must possess.
But we need to remember organizations are only customer focused if their employees and staff are customer focused, because it’s people who serve customers, design, build and deliver products and services, not organizations.
Now most of us know what “Customer Focus” looks like from the receiving end, but what does it look like from the giving end? What does a “Customer Focus” person do, how do they think, how is it expressed in their day-to-day work?
They dedicate themselves to exceeding customers’ expectations, which requires getting to know customers well enough to understand their expectations, needs, and wants. Then it’s using this knowledge to, not just meet expectations, but to do everything possible to exceed them, to surprise the customer, to make them feel like an old friend.
Finally, it’s important we understand who the customer is. It’s not just those who pay for our services but anyone who depends on us within or outside our organization. In other words, we all have customers. Our goal then should be to exceed the expectations of all our customers, not just the “paying ones”. And when we embrace that we all have customers and thus all need to have “Customer Focus” we’re creating the kind of organization that will make an enduring impact on the lives of others.
This is part 9 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.43.928283-85.286682