Passion…Ya Gotta Have It!


Every successful person in life, no matter what they do, have one quality in common…they’re passionate about what they believe in & how they go about their life.

Passion drives you to levels you’ve always wanted to achieve, but, perhaps, didn’t believe you could.

Passion pushes you to do things…even when no one is looking.

Passion doesn’t allow you to settle. It won’t be satisfied with status quo or “that’s OK”.

Passion means that you always want to be the very best at what you do. Better than what you may have expected from yourself. Better than anyone else.

Passion means that you care 24×7. That you ALWAYS stand up for what you believe in, regardless of what anyone else may believe or think.

Passion can mean that you may be the lone wolf out there, the only one waving the flag while others merely are “doing their job”.

Passion will, and must, consume you.


Yes, I get the work/life balance. I really do. But passion will always be asking for a little more, just another 5 minutes.

It will not allow you to settle, or compromise for anything but the very best…both out of yourself as well as from others.

I served as the Service Director for the U.S. Citibanking Center for several years, in addition to putting out a whole bunch of fires along the way.

And while I knew a whole lot about banking & Citi & customer service & client satisfaction & leading people & other “important things”, I was never satisfied about how much I knew or how well I knew it.

If I couldn’t get that knowledge into everyone else’s heads, then everything was for naught.

We once had a “joint calibration session” with about 40 Directors & managers in the Board Room down here in San Antonio. That’s where everyone listens to the same call (live or recorded) & then independently, rate or grade the call based upon established guidelines for the business.

Often times, you’ll find that people’s interpretation of what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s passable, what’s unacceptable will vary GREATLY!

Just like with music & art (or the type of car you drive), this ain’t an exact science.

People have different expectations of & for their people. At times, they’ll be “too protective” for fear of “demotivating someone” or “making someone look bad”…including themselves.

“Looking good” is bullshit, plain & simple. Way too many people, managers (not leaders), organizations, businesses are absorbed with the “importance” of looking good.

Try this method instead…

Let’s do good, act good, believe in good so that, as a result, we’ll then look good!

“Hollow good”, appearing good without any real substance, is nonsense.

You don’t think that your customers can see & feel that?

I’ve been places where the overall employee “satisfaction” rating was in the low 60s.

We climbed a couple of points one year & they started patting each other on the back for a job well done.

Pure nonsense.

64% satisfied means 36% were NOT satisfied.

If that doesn’t keep you up late at night, then you simply don’t care…enough.

Same for customer satisfaction.

And internally-measured call/work quality.

While it’s always OK to be pleased with improvement & strides taken in getting better results, you must not ever be totally satisfied with JUST the upward trend.

And “maintaining status quo” (unless you’re at the very highest level possible) just means you’re falling behind.

Improving just a little equates to basically standing still.

Hey, figures lie & liars figure, so don’t get all caught up in the hoopla…unless & until you’re truly happy with your organization’s results!

That’s what being passionate will do for you.

Oh, forgot all about that call monitoring calibration session…

We’d often do these sessions with a few service representatives, a manager or two, and a couple of people from our Sitewide Quality Monitoring group.

And, a lot of times, with me.

It was amazing how often the perceptions of how the call went differed significantly.

This one particular time, we held this big session with, like I said, ~40 members of our leadership team.

We listened to a call from the wife (a joint signer on the Checking account with her husband) where it was pretty obvious that her husband inadvertently paid the phone company TWICE, for 2 different amounts (via our on-line banking bill payment function), but failed to pay the Visa bill.

And one of those 2 payments matched what they owed Visa exactly.

To the penny.

The wife had received an early Collections call from the Visa card issuer about being delinquent. A blind man could easily see what happened!

The service rep on the call wasn’t helpful at all!

Told the wife that she couldn’t (wouldn’t?) discuss the details of the transactions with her as it was her husband who performed the transactions on-line.

(Pssst, remember, the wife is a joint signer & has FULL & UNRESTRICTED rights to anything & everything on the account – – including all the money!!!)

The rep advised the wife to have her husband call Citi when he got home from work that night.

The wife was incredibly frustrated with the situation & the inability (unwillingness?) of the rep to help her…DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE WIFE IS A FULLY-AUTHORIZED SIGNER ON THE ACCOUNT!

She was on the verge of sobbing by the end of the call! You could clearly hear her voice breaking up & how very upset (NOT mad, but terribly upset & emotionally distraught) she was!

Hell, she could withdraw all the funds or even close the account if she wanted without her husband’s knowledge or permission!

But the rep wouldn’t help her as “she didn’t do the bill payments herself”! 🤬

We went around the room to grade the call.

EVERYONE (but me) rated the call as “good” or “very good”.

I abstained from voting until everyone else finished (with their nonsense).

Then I let them all have it!

“This was one of the worst calls I’ve ever heard!

“Did anyone hear the wife almost crying toward the end? How could we possibly have a good or even, a very good call when the customer is that frustrated & we’re bringing her to tears?

“Since when does the customer’s experience in the call not play a role in grading a call?

“And you know that as a joint signer, she has full rights to ANYTHING & EVERYTHING ON THE ACCOUNT! That includes ATM cash withdrawals that her husband may have done, checks he may have written, stop payment orders he may have placed and, yes, bill payments he authorized on-line!

“I don’t give a crap what your stupid procedures say about speaking with the customer who actually performed the transactions himself so as to avoid possible confusion.

“There was NO CONFUSION whatsoever as to what happened here!!!

“On top of that, the powers & rights of a joint signer supersede everything, including these made-up, ridiculous procedures!

“And why instruct the wife to tell her husband to call when he came home from work? Why not establish a 3-way call (with both the wife AND the husband) right then & there to resolve the issue if the rep truly believed that the husband’s authorization was needed????

“If you were the husband, is that the type of service you would’ve wanted your wife to receive in order to correct an obvious error? I mean, who pays 2 different amounts to the same company but just happens to omit paying another bill without it being a mistake?

“What the hell were all of you thinking?!?”

There was complete silence.

I then proceeded to preach for ~15 minutes on what REAL customer service is all about.

Reinforcing the belief that in addition to mastering all the different & appropriate policies, procedures & rules that are in place, you must NEVER leave the customer…and your OBSESSION to ensure that you’ve met & EXCEEDED the customer’s needs & expectations…out of the equation.

That’s what being passionate means.

We handled over 10
million calls a month…8MM via IVR/Interactive Voice Response & 2MM manned.

Passion means you worry about EVERY single call that we get…and that you’ve prepared your people to properly handle each one.

And that you regularly check to see how that execution went.

And that EVERYONE is on the same exact page as to what’s expected in order to meet & exceed our customers’ needs & expectations.

Oh, and please, do NOT throw out common sense, nor the baby, with the bath water!

Don’t just act like a role model…BE ONE!

40 people all agreeing that it was a “Good” or “Very Good” call kept me awake at night for the next few months!!!

Holy shit! Has this place not learned a damned thing over the years?

My God, if you think I’m “preachy”when you read these stories of mine, could you possibly imagine what I was like in real life?!?

The customer!!!

The customer!!!

The customer!!!

Note: OK, there may have been 1 or 2 “wanna-be renegades” in the group of 40 who really wanted to say “No, I don’t think it was a good call!”, but were afraid of possible cross-examination by “experts”…the “implicit peer pressure” of “following the company line”…or the fear of “standing out & being the exception” since everyone before them said that it was a good/very good call.

But, ya know, when you’re truly passionate about what you believe in – – and who on God’s green Earth should be more passionate about CUSTOMER SERVICE than the leaders in CUSTOMER SERVICE & the various support organizations themselves!!! – – you don’t give a shit about what other people think as long as you know that what you’re doing, what you’re saying & what you’re believing in is, indeed, the RIGHT THING!!!

The right thing for the customer. (Customers want & deserve the best service possible.)

The right thing for the employees. (Who doesn’t think that the reps would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to resolve every single customer’s issue quickly & easily?)

The right thing for the company. (Instead of simply correcting the customer’s mistake right upfront, we spent all this time doing nothing helpful, created another totally-unnecessary customer interaction for the husband, upset the wife & left a sour taste in the customers’ mouth!)

Remember, happy/satisfied customers will usually tell 1 other person. Maybe 2.

Dissatisfied customers? Between 11 & 13 other people hear about it!!!

Customer. Employees. Company.

You’ll find that when you do the right thing for your CUSTOMER, it will (almost always) be the right thing for the other two.

Same thing when you do the right thing for your EMPLOYEES. (Pssst, your people will greatly appreciate it when you help to increase their knowledge & empower them to really help customers…and appreciate it WAY MORE than every pot luck, ice cream social & stupid chachka in the history of the world!!!)

*including those li’l Citi piggy bank charms that “absolutely everyone” loved & collected*

😱  😱  😱  😱  😱

And the same thing when you do the right thing for the COMPANY…


Or at least it SHOULD be (must be?) right for the customer & the employees if & when it’s right for the company!

Those 3 parties MUST be in complete lock step with each & every customer interaction & transaction.

Not exactly sure if every place is there yet, but at the very least, it must be everyone’s goal.

Yes, I need a chill pill, but passionate people don’t even know what those things are!

Being passionate has nothing to do with being tense, or agitated, or going at 155 MPH all the time.

But, rather, it marks the way you think about the Big 3 (customer, employee, company) & how you go about your day, always putting them in the forefront.

If anything or anyone (including your boss) is more important than those 3, you definitely need to re-evaluate your priorities.



As always thank you so very much for your time.

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