Ladies and gentlemen.
Apart from arrogance, I see self-absorption (when the customer is bothering…) as the biggest danger for successful companies. Some people believe they are the greatest and others only deal with themselves because they believe success comes automatically and will stay forever.
“Sorry, Mr. Müller is in a meeting.” It might or could even be necessary, but if this is the standard answer, and if a customer needs to talk, then the business is positioned incorrectly. According to relevant studies: meetings, conferences, business trips, coordination meetings and the like determine up to 90% of the time of executives, oh dear. The word executive should actually mean to run the business and doing business with customers, this applies not only to executives but to everyone…
In bureaucracy and administration, we Germans are top of the class. Can’t hurt – but you don’t have to exaggerate. If you waste your energy on bureaucracy, you lack it when working with customers and when dealing with the competition… I see a great deal of self- absorption in many companies – in part, also in our own.
A large and lengthy back and forth – similar to that of a cumbersome corporation or even a government agency – it doesn’t get us anything. Dealing with ourselves does not represent a service, it does not bring any benefit to the customer and certainly does not lead to success. Success is only achieved by focusing on our business partners, customers and markets. Internal meetings, pages of organizational instructions and process descriptions, cumbersome procedures, conferences lasting for hours or miserable e-mail Ping- Pong with accusations and attempts at justification, bore, steal time and generate frustration. Then it may happen that a customer disturbs and the company takes far too long to fulfill his ask, if there is anyone left to listen?
After all, it’s no coincidence that a company fails or is successful. It is hard and concentrated work, it’s the outward appearance, instead of the absorption, the speed instead of the inertia, and the willingness of everyone in the company to do really good work, instead of pointlessly arguing around and playing the dogmatic game.
Organization, structure, systems and order are required – no question, but also flexibility, adaptability, the desire to sell and above all an unrestricted customer orientation instead of increased absorption and internal company gimmicks. If someone has to wait days for an answer, only the answering machine is left on and the responsible persons jump from one meeting to another, then the best degree of organization is of no use. There has to be time for business and for 100% loving customer service, including personal relationship management and active sales work. In companies it is important to maintain the culture of entrepreneurship within the entire team and not that of regulators.
If all colleagues in a company – in our case 1,000 co-entrepreneurs – do something to move forward, to reduce costs, to increase sales and profits, to improve quality and performance in order to inspire customers, then the company will remain healthy and successful, but only then…
In one sentence: The customer is king, we have to take care of him, because he is where we get our money from.
Ernst Prost, Managing Director