From keynote speaker – customer service speaker Micah Solomon
Beating Little Kids at Chess
When I see customer service employees refusing to budge in disputes with customers over small charges, rushing them out the door when it’s closing time, and a thousand other by-the book, stingy behaviors, it’s troubling to me because it speaks of a management that discourages pro-customer autonomy and employees who misperceive their ultimate purpose in the organization. What’s going on here is that someone has built (or, as likely, allowed to happen by default) a company that functions the way you teach little kids to play chess.
You know how they teach little kids to play chess? They tell them that a pawn is worth $1; a knight, $3; a rook, $5; and a queen, $8. This is, up to a point, smart; it teaches them what I think all adult chess players instinctively know about the value of pieces.
But the flaw in the system becomes quickly obvious: It makes it embarrassingly easy to wallop a kid at chess if this is all they know. Because a kid will gleefully proclaim in temporary triumph, “Heh, heh, heh, I’ve got 25 bucks worth of your pieces,” to which you can then calmly and cold-bloodedly reply, “Well, yeah, that’s true, but… checkmate, buddy.”
It’s hard, when you’re taught to play chess this way, to understand the concept that the king has infinite value—that there is no way to put a value on the king. Similarly, until an employee matures, and understands her relation to her organization’s ultimate goals, the same is true, with the customer standing in for the chess king. If your employees don’t understand their purpose in your organization and have the power and encouragement to act autonomously to support it—sacrificing a few pawns, so to speak, in order to protect the customer—you will lose the game. You will be checkmated by customers who defect.
By Micah Solomon – keynote speaker, customer service speaker, customer service consultant, and #1 bestselling author of “Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization.” Visit with Micah at http://customerserviceguru.com. Or, click here for your own free chapter of Micah Solomon’s #1 customer service bestseller, Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization