Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Does the Term ‘Accountability’ Mean to You?

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) said “hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” I wonder how many political leaders, business leaders and even parents around the world hold themselves to a belief such as this.

Not meaning to be cynical but I see more and more examples of leaders stating they are accountable, until it comes the time to actually be accountable when, too commonly, a platitude of excuses spout forth and ‘we the public’ seem to swallow them every time.

Yet an anonymous source gives the following quote “when you blame others, you give up your power to change.” This is so true, as while one is blaming or misdirecting to avoid ‘ones accountability’ you lose that precious opportunity to be transparent and to implement the actions for change. Since as Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) stated “action springs not from thought, but from the readiness for responsibility.”

In fact the truth may be in George Bernard Shaw’s words – “liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”

An interesting way to look at Accountability is that it starts with Action and ends with You: -

A – Action
C – Commitment
C – Culture
O – Ownership
U – Understanding
N – Non-Negotiable
T – Tenacious
A – Attainable
B – Behaviour
I – Integrity
L – Learning
I – Innovative
T – Talent
Y – You

It was Ronald Regan who said “we must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the law breaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for their actions.” So with so many people talking about accountable, why is the principle still not being applied as the rule rather than the exception – why can’t society hold those in higher office, in politics and business, to account – it was my limited understanding that this was a cornerstone of the principles of democracy.

Finally Catherine Pulsifer, one of the authors of ‘Inspirational Words of Wisdom’, makes two great statements. First that “you are accountable for your actions, your decisions, your life and no one else but you.” And Secondly that, “we are accountable for our decisions in our personal life, so why shouldn’t we be just as accountable in our work life.”

Surely, until us grown-ups start being held accountable, how can we expect today’s youth – the future leaders of our world – to accept and even grasp the concept.


Henrik Edberg. 7 Timeless Thoughts on Taking Responsibility for Your Life.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Who Gave You the Best and Who Gave You the Worst Customer Service Experiences in 2011?

Moving back to Europe in April this year to set up a northern hemisphere operation I expected to be amazed by the level of service I would receive in countries like England, for example. Sadly that has been farthest from the truth and in many cases I’ve experienced 3rd World service from organisations supposedly operating in 1st World environments.

In my many experiences this year the organisation that gets the vote for offering the worst levels of customer service that I have ever received from any organisation in the world over the last 40 years is – VODAFONE UK.
Here you have a company that has probably grown so big that they don’t really give a damn about the customer as their volume of business is so high and where there approach, which seems to be based on ‘colonial arrogance’ is so outdated that I’m amazed they survive.
They have a CEO called Guy Laurence, at least in name – since he doesn’t have the courtesy to respond to couriered letters and complaints; though to be fair he’s probably so hectically busy building those vital business and strategic contacts on various exclusive golf courses and putting on the pounds in posh international restaurants, that ‘we’ the customer can be ‘delegated’ (i.e. fobbed-off) as a ‘bloody inconvenience’ – having probably not worked out yet that putting on the pounds, doesn’t go directly to the bottom-line of Vodafone, but just to his own bottom line.
What’s classic about this organisation is that the word ‘sorry’ has definitely become a ‘four letter’ word that they push out there under the complete misperception that this will ‘magically make the problem go away’.
What’s classic about this ‘ghost’ of a CEO, is you can actually contact him directly on line – – where he states “I’m Guy Laurence, the Vodafone UK CEO. I’m committed to ensuring we provide the best service possible and am therefore passionate about listening to our customers….” – nice try Guy, but you should try practicing what you preach.
So if you ever want to let off some steam and there isn’t a punch bag nearby, drop this man a line on my behalf….
Second on my list of the worst service providers would be another mobile phone operator called ‘Orange’ – maybe there’s something about the mobile industry we don’t know about. Here you have a guy called Sandeep Heer who’s the Strategy Director at Orange in London (at least in title) and he’s another one that seems to think the higher you get the less you actually have to do and couldn’t even respond to a simple email from a potential customer seeking a service provider.
Where do these people come from and worse still how do they survive in these positions of power, which they seem to misuse on a daily basis. It doesn’t say much for the major shareholders of these organisations that ‘rubber stamp’ these people who see customers as ‘uneducated peasants’ who are simply there to do their bidding.
When one gets rid of the trash – what’s exciting is that there are still many organisations and many unique individuals who take a real pride in offering exceptional levels of service. Having made a recent return trip to Cape Town via Dubai with Emirates – I have to say that I found their level of service absolutely outstanding. It’s not just one person, or one aspect of the business, but when dealing at any level there is a real desire to solve any problems and to give you that wow experience.
The main focus on offering service has changed over the last few years, from customer service and customer loyalty to customer delight. Organisations that fail to offer customer delight may think they are successful entities, with healthy bottom-lines, but they are unfortunately delusional, like our friends at Vodafone and living on borrowed time – their customers aren’t delighted, but also aren’t as stupid as the organisations think and are simply waiting for the right time to leave – and when they do they will never return.