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Taking responsibility for the whole

The other day I was in one of our larger companies that sells electronic gadgets. Before I went in to shop, I visited the toilet at the entrance.

The matter was settled and the hands were to be washed, but there was no soap. I rinsed off to the best of my ability and outside they had hand sanitizer as a remnant from Covid times, so it was probably good anyway.

I am usually the one who tells you if something is missing. Both as a good gesture to the next guest, but also because I understand that it is difficult for the business to always keep track of what needs to be fixed. It’s better that I tell you and it can be fixed, than that the next, next and next customer gets annoyed because they’re out of soap, paper or whatever.

Now it’s not as if they have a place in shops that says “tell us here if you are short of soap”, but you have to talk to any salesperson in the shop.

That’s what I did. Saw an off-duty salesperson standing by the cell phones.

– “Hey, there’s no soap in the toilet out there,” I said, pointing to the toilet.

– Oh, I see,” said the seller, walking away from where he was standing.

I thought it was probably the case that he would fix it right away. Well done, I thought. But no, he just stood a bit further away and hung there instead, as if he wanted to get away from me.

My request as a customer to have soap in the toilet was completely ignored.

He may have thought “it’s not my job to fix it, the cleaner will take care of it”. Regardless, the problem was not resolved and the aforementioned “next, next and next customer” also experienced the same lack of service.

Because surely the toilet is part of the whole service that a business offers? Whether it is an electronics chain, a gas station or an office.

How does it work in your business? Do you take collective responsibility for solving issues that are not outside your personal domain, or do you ignore it?

You may not have to solve the task yourself, such as in the example above, going to stock up on soap. But you can make sure it is replenished by someone more focused on that task.

Many times it helps to take charge of the customer’s problem and own it for a while. Do not leave it with the customer so that they have to drag it through your organization. As a customer, we want to be supported by someone who shows concern for us, even if we are not the one to solve the problem.

If the salesperson I met had said “thank you, we’ll take care of that”, then picked up the phone and called someone who has the task and/or ability to refill the soap, I would have felt much better. But also it would have been so much better for that “next, next and next customer”. It would have enhanced the whole experience of shopping at this electronics company.

Doing thousands of small things like this is what makes an activity actually feel excellent. Not doing so is what creates the opposite.

Excellence is in what we do all the time. Mainly in the small things, because together they form the big ones.



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