Transformation & Other Stuff

Change comes from the outside in, forcing us to react and manage crises.

Transformation, on the other hand, whether it is business or personal, always comes from the inside out, and that gives us far more control while allowing us to actively shape the future.

If you’re looking at customer feedback, customer satisfaction surveys, customer testimonials, etc. to see how your business unit is performing, that’s great!!!

Those tools, in addition to what you hear from your own people, are great ways to find out what’s going on.

But if that’s where you’re looking for change, for the next whatever, then you’re so GREATLY MISTAKEN!

NO ONE ever asked for the smart phone. Or the PC. Or a home equity line of credit. Or probably anything that was invented or developed in the past 100 years

Don’t be asking your customers what they want…be forward-thinking enough to KNOW your customers’ current needs & wants, then ANTICIPATE what they’ll really need & want going forward…

…even though they don’t know it themselves!!!

Then you TELL them…subtly or otherwise…want they need & really want!

And, especially, your non-customers.

And you don’t necessarily need to be the first-to-market with an idea or philosophy.


Phone apps for just about everything.

Self-service alternatives.

Use of AI/Artificial Intelligence to anticipate customer needs & recognize patterns.

Voice-to-text, text-to-voice. Intelligent systems applications that automatically provide
policy/process/procedure assistance.


Automatic prompting for top answers.

Reminders that you haven’t paid a specific vendor this month on bill payment.

Automatic prompts on phone calls, IVR, on-line sessions if a payment is due or late.

A daily pill holder that actually reminds you after X hours.

(Not exactly in the same vein, but I’ve always found the use of “negative option replies” to be, by far, the most effective way to get customers enrolled into a service that is a) eventually inevitable, &/or b) the absolute best thing for them.)

As I mentioned in an earlier article (Editor’s note: I wrote these stories in a certain order, but unfortunately, didn’t publish them in that order nor do they appear in FB that way. Sorry ’bout that!), when Citi began providing digitized check images (vs. the actual cancelled checks themselves on the statement), National Marketing forecasted that it would take 5 years to get 95% of the customer base to agree to convert.

I insisted on a negative-option (“I’m giving it to you unless & until you say no!”) alternative.

There was no way in Hell I would agree to have this dark cloud over us for 5 years!

They need to take their medicine NOW as it was, in reality, the best thing for them.

I won out.

In 3 months, we converted 98.9% of our customers with very little noise & an easy mechanism to reverse it upon request. Eventually, between pricing & product rule changes, we cleaned up the rest.

Sometimes, it’s no different than giving actual medicine to your kids.

Except you can’t send them to their rooms.

Life isn’t necessarily about being nice, but rather, about doing the RIGHT THING! (Of course, always try to do it nicely, but right is might.. with medicine & kids as well as consumers.)

You have to be so deep into your business & your industry that you’ll know what’s best for your current & future customers before they ever get an idea.

And industry intelligence is a MUST!

What are our competitors doing?

If you don’t have accounts imbedded in other organizations, how are you gonna learn?

Consultants can be very expensive…and they haven’t ever come up with an original thought. They merely regurgitate what your own people have said, inform you on what your competitors are doing & stay up-to-date on the newest & the best.

And make sure your scope is not limited to your specific industry.

You don’t really believe that McDonalds actually invented self-ordering kiosks or that Domino’s was the first place willing to replace your pizza if you have an accident.

I remember when I asked the greater girl holding all the menus at Joe’s Crab Shack if there was a booth available.

She turned around, scanned the floor, then told me “No, Sir!”

So I had to specifically request that she get someone to clean off 1 of the 2 unoccupied, but still filled with dishes, booths so we could sit there.

Yes, she answered my specific question, but was unable (unwilling? not trained?) to actually satisfy my REAL need.

Find out what type of service really pleases you in your everyday life…as well as with ones that left you hanging, disappointed & unfulfilled.

There’s always a lesson to learn.

Is that how we treat our customers? How long does it take us to resolve a customer’s problem? Do we have an effective, efficient & timely process to handle escalated issues? Do we put the customer through the same, exact rigmarole on 2nd requests or is there an expedited process to address this incredibly frustrating situation? What do we do when we get negative feedback? Positive feedback?

Do we only look at trends & forget the absolute?

I remember when Citi were patting ourselves on the back when our USCC employee high satisfaction rose from 61% to 63% one year.

Yes, great improvement indeed, but what about the 37% that weren’t highly satisfied? Those were the ones most likely to leave!

And when I was with Nationwide (this one’s a doozie!!!), I swear that they were planning a parade when the annual asset RUN-OFF rate decreased from 11.2% to 10.9%, year over year!

“Wow, we were less terrible!!!”

You need to be pulling the freaking fire alarms if you’re losing 1/10th of your assets annually!!! Not sure that “sense of urgency” was in their vocabulary.

“Oh, but we’re a mutual! We don’t have stockholders to answer to!”

You should…they would’ve cleaned house a long time ago!

You always have to be looking for the next big thing…even if that means taking a whole bunch of little steps.

In today’s world, “status quo”, “steady as she goes” & “consistent” = “You’re falling behind!”

No one’s gonna stop & wait for you to catch up.

Never, ever be satisfied…with anything, including resounding success or “our best year ever!”.

Oh, you can enjoy your success, all right & by all means, celebrate it (and credit your people), but you must be hungry to do even better!

Kaizen = continuous improvement.

Be like a ray in geometry…extend infinitely in one direction. The positive one!

And have dozens & dozens of different rays to measure “success”…profitability, long-term growth, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, retention/attrition, efficiency, effectiveness, problem resolution/occurrence/avoidance, solid balance sheet, risk mitigation, community involvement/betterment, corporate citizenship, succession planning, KPI/Key Performance Indicators, value added, contingency planning, etc..

Doesn’t mean you need to be stressed out (although I personally seemed to thrive on it), but you do need to be ever-vigilant, always measuring your performance (though actually performing is more crucial) & never being satisfied.

Sis, Boom, Bah!

Just a few seeds to plant in your heads when you look at your own businesses & it doesn’t hafta be at the corporate level. Look at your own li’l sphere of influence & see what opportunities exist to take it where it’s never been before!

(Oh, If you’re retired, ignore everything I said. 🤪)

As always, thank you so very much for listening!

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