Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Are you Fred?

By Wes Friesen, Portland General Electric

“There is only one boss – the customer. If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.”

Fred Shea was a postal carrier who really took to heart and embodied the following quote from Martin Luther King: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper (or work in A/P or A/R!), he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great sweeper who did his job well.’”

Fred provided exceptional service to all his customers, and constantly went the extra mile – he would even drive through the neighborhood to check on people on his days off! One of Fred’s very satisfied customers was motivational speaker and author Mark Sanborn, who wrote a book about exceptional customer service called “The Fred Factor.” I highly recommend getting the book and the video training series and going through it with your team.

Here are four cardinal principles about being a “Fred:”

1) Principle #1: Everyone Makes a Difference - every individual can choose to do his or her job in an extraordinary way, regardless of the circumstances.

2) Principle #2: Success is Built on Relationships - the quality of the relationship determines the quality of the product or service.

3) Principle #3: You Must Continually Create Value for Others, and It Doesn’t Have to Cost a Penny - you can creatively find no-cost ways to exceed expectations of your customers.

4) Principle #4: You Can Reinvent Yourself Regularly - every morning you wake up with a clean slate. We can choose to follow the advice of John Wooden’s father Joshua who taught “make each day your masterpiece.”

One tool to measure how well your team provides customer service, is to conduct a periodic customer survey. By analyzing the results of the survey you can reinforce what is going well, and identify areas that can be improved. Because people are busy these days, I prefer to keep the survey simple and short. Here is a sample survey that you can use as a starting place:


Are your jobs completed in a timely manner?
Below Expectations ____
Meets Expectations ____
Exceeds Expectations ____

How is the overall quality of the work that our team provides for you? (same scale)

Is the staff responsive to your special requests? (same scale)

Do you find that our staff are helpful and offer solutions to your needs? (same scale)

Overall Performance: (same scale)

Are there services that you would like to see that are not currently provided?
What do you feel are some areas of strength in how we serve you?
What ideas do you have on how we can serve you better in the future?

Unfortunately Fred-like service is not common – as Roger Staubach says “there are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” Being a Fred is a choice – how will you and your team choose?

Let me close with a final quote to think about that comes from Andrew Carnegie: “There are two types of people who never achieve very much in their lifetimes. One is the person who won’t do what he is told to do, and the other is the person who does no more than what he or she is told to do.” Good luck as you commit you and your team to go the extra mile and be “Fred’s!”

Wes can be contacted at Wes.Friesen@pgn.com.

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