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SECRET #7: Reveal Your Character by Unveiling Your Courage

Bell, Chip Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

Without hesitation, Davidson put the part into the hands of an employee and got the employee on the next plane to New Orleans, where he delivered the part and then stayed overnight before returning home.

Was Davidson driven by some official service guarantee or legal obligation? Nope. What was the cost to Southern Pipe & Supply? More than $1000. What possessed Davidson to take what any cost accountant would see as a foolish move? The answer lies not in the fanatical customer devotion and word-of-mouth marketing that occurred as a result of Davidson’s decision—those were the happy consequences.

The answer lies in his character.

“I have learned one thing that has made my business a success,” says Davidson. “You cannot live your values only during the good times. The real test is to live them during the bad times. Besides, the

$2.50 part incident was a good way to remind everyone in my shop about what is really important around here.”

The Colors of Character Revealed

“Character” is one of those vibrant words that can be used to paint many colorful word pictures. Webster’s really big dictionary has twentyeight definitions! The word is derived from the Greek word

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CHAPTER 8 Trust Thrives When Leaders Lead Naturally

Bell, Chip Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

1. You want very much for your immediate family members to be open and honest in their dealings with you. You are eager to have relationships that lack suspicion or mistrust. Would you:

A. Periodically sit down as a family and talk through thorny issues and conflicts, openly resolving all you can on the spot, or:

B. Hire a colleague to prepare an anonymous, written attitude survey he would administer to your family members and then come to dinner one evening to present the results, still protecting each family member’s anonymity.

2. Using a participative style, you frequently have encouraged your immediate family members to help you identify ways to make home management more efficient and effective. Without warning, your spouse is unemployed and you must make major cuts in your family budget. Do you:

A. Ask family members to help you solve the challenges of the economic crunch just like you have sought their input in better times, or

B. Encourage your oldest child to join the army early and send two of the kids off to live with a distant cousin several states away.

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CHAPTER 13 Customers Are Empowered When Leaders Promote Partnerships

Bell, Chip Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

parts store for a replacement. The service counter person quickly determined that the plug Mel needed was not in stock at the store and that he’d have to call for one from their nearby warehouse.

“I need spark plug #232F ASAP!” the counter guy barked to the person who answered the warehouse phone. Mel sensed that he had suddenly been dropped in the middle of a battle zone. “Whaddaya mean you’re on break? I’m your customer, goldarnnit, and I need some service right now!”

The counter guy hung up and tersely apologized to Mel for the wait. “Those warehouse people forget who they’re working for,” he snapped. “They don’t give a darn that I’m the one out here on the firing line.”

Mel told him to forget about it; he’d just take his rifle to another war zone down the street. “As I left,” Mel said, “I heard him back on the phone to the poor soul in the warehouse. Their conversation was all about winning a feud, not about losing my funds.”

If the employee of that auto parts company had known a little something about working in partnership with others, Mel would have walked away in a different frame of mind. He would have also been reassured that he, not the employee behind the counter, was the customer.

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SECRET #2: Focus on Customer Hopes, Not Just Needs

Bell, Chip Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

house calls. Oh, you can take your sick computer by and leave it for repair. You can even sit in their reception area and wait while they put it in their “emergency room” fast track. They will even try to help you avoid their services altogether by first attempting to troubleshoot your problem with you by phone. But what will really make you a devoted fan is PC House Call’s seeming ability to read your mind!

The last time a friend of ours was in their ER reception area, owner

Linda Beneventi chatted with him in between the phone calls she was fielding with her remote headset that gave her complete mobility around the shop. Quickly zipping past “How’s the weather” questions, she moved on to questions that might have come from some think tank inquiry.

“Would you like to be able to interact with your laptop remotely

. . . like when it’s in the hotel room and you’re at a meeting, would you like to be able to call it on the phone?” “How does your computer make you angry?” “Do you ever use your modem with the air phone when you’re flying?” “How often do you clean your computer keys with that expensive can of air?”

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CHAPTER 11 Curiosity Lights Up When Leaders Learn Out Loud

Bell, Chip Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

Magnetic service leaders learn for learning’s sake—they get an adrenaline rush out of always honing their skills, enhancing their understanding, and deepening their wisdom. They know that the pursuit of the “not known” is worth more than the praise of the “known.” Magnetic service leaders lust for the thrill of the hunt. They are restless, hungry souls who are never satisfied with what they know because they appreciate the fact that “antiquated” is right on their heels and “obsolete” is gaining on them quickly.

At the same time, they continually direct their hunt for insight toward the goal of understanding customers better. “Just when you think you know what customers value,” says John Campbell, president of Toronto-based Brookfield Ventures, a large commercial property management company, “some incident happens that reminds you that you still have a lot to learn. It means customer listening is never over.”

It also means that questioning customers is a never-ending process.

Being continuously curious about customers involves a dogged and determined quest that says, in the words of one world-class car sales professional, “I’ll keep asking and listening and nosing around until something lights up.” Service providers driven by curiosity know that until the customer “lights up,” they have not reached the level of understanding that can truly inform anticipatory action and clairvoyant response.

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