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You Can't Get There From Here

Kmart_roadblockWe've all seen the signs from stores.  The ones that intuitively and implicitly say, "Go away, kid.  You bother me."  Often, companies, departments, and individuals do not even realize they are communicating to their customers their desire to keep them away.  Let's face it... taking out the driveway and putting in road-closed signs to force customers to find a different entrance is a little obvious.

  • What about creating policies which force customers (internal or external) to jump through nearly impossible hoops?
  • What about rewarding your call center staff for getting customers off the phone quickly rather than happily?
  • What about offering rebates instead of just putting the item on sale?
  • What about hiring a sloppy Gen-Y slacker or a prim-and-proper ice queen as your receptionist?
  • What about holding up potential job candidates in mountains of red tape instead of making a decision one way or the other so they can get on with their lives?

The first step to fixing these roadblocks is identifying them.  Ask a friend or trusted colleague to "play pretend" customer for you and give you their impressions.  Ask a head hunter to pretend to be a job seeker with your organization.  Seek out objective counsel who can tell you what is wrong when customers enter YOUR system.  How easy is it for them?

Trust me on this one:  you can't seize your accomplishments if you are preventing your customers from seizing theirs.


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I much prefer to go THROUGH obstacles, not around them. You see, when you go around obstacles, they are still there. When you go THROUGH obstacles, then many times you are able to leave them in very small pieces.

Now some obstacles one may never be able to get through (or even around). That's when it's time to get creative.

Timothy Johnson

I prefer to go through as well, Jay. As a customer, it's always easier to ask forgiveness than wait for approval.

However, as a service provider, what are the roadblocks we put in front of our customers? Think about your school. What do your teachers and administrators do (often intentionally and without thinking) which get in the way of students and parents and prevent learning and community?

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