Imperfect Information - Imperfect Decisions

by

Too often intent, decisions and actions are ill-founded, because of a lack of information. Imagine an environment in which apologies, retractions and remedial actions were not necessary.

If only. 

Two words.  Big meaning.  Compelling sentiment.   

Too often intent, decisions and actions are ill-founded, because of a lack of information.  "If only I knew then what I know now" is a common phrase with significant implications.  Imagine an environment in which apologies, retractions and remedial actions were not necessary.   

The pursuit and attainment of optimal efficiency and effectiveness, as well as quality customer service would be and is more readily and consistently achieved when all the pertinent information is willingly shared.  No one individual, department or sector is precluded from the philosophy or process. 

Evolving, establishing and sustaining positive relationships are typically centered on mutual respect and trust, which facilitate timely open, ongoing, two-way and complete exchanging of information. 

Qualified, filtered and edited communication leads to suboptimal performance and stress in relationships, private, personal and in business. The reality of much commercial sensitive information and supposed intellectual property is one of subjectivity, rather than objectivity.  Upon reflection much of what was considered to be a must for confidentiality is in reality not that essential.  If only ... the information was provided at the time. 

ENABLING POWER

The willingness to share information is energizing to all concerned.  It underscores a strong element of trust, integrity and respect.

Moreover, it enables and facilitates reasonable, rational and objective forecasting of demand, supply, services and resources. An early exchange of information provides for effective forward planning and forecasting in which operations are optimized and variable costs are minimised. Information in isolation cannot and will not convert a "no, we can't supply" into a "yes".  However, it enables appropriate, often mutual searches for identification and securement of alternative sources, supplies, products and services. 

DOCTRINE OF NO SURPRISES

Harold Geneen, the former President of ITT, the trans-national telecommunication and investment conglomerate (which previously operated the Sheraton Hotels and AVIS Rent-A-Car networks) subscribed to the DOCTRINE OF NO SURPRISES.  Early and ongoing advice was considered the foundation of sound forward planning and optimal performance. No-one was penalized or disadvantaged by being the purveyor of "bad news". The underlying cultural belief was that one cannot always control what happens to them in life, but one can control how one responds to what happens to them in life.  Life can and does reflect business. 

VALUE FORESIGHT

Understandably many business leaders assign marginal value to hindsight.  Premium is and should be accorded the foresight, because efficiency is optimized, effectiveness is enhanced, customer service is improved and relationships are cemented and sustained.  20/20 vision may be a measure of ideal sight.  Foresight will seldom, if ever, be so focused, accurate and repetitive. However, greater credence and understanding are given to acceptance of the premise:  

"It was best and most appropriate decision, based on the information which was available at the time."

The exchange of information requires the allocation of time, people and resources.  It can be and often is intense and exhausting. However, it does give pause to consider the realization that up to 1 in 4 workers in the United States of America are employed to correct the errors and deficiencies of other workers.  Many of those errors are a product of inadequate and incomplete information. 

Compounding this reality is the multiplying effects of not delivering the products, services and customer services which are expected, all because of poor communication.  The impact on one consumer or client can be and often is felt by up to four others. If only more information was shared at the appropriate time and possibly in the context of confidentiality, customer satisfaction would be enhanced and the capacity of service providers upgraded. One most often gets paid for what one does rather than what one says.  In the scenario detailed, what one says is a pre-emptive factor to what one can do and how, when and why one does it. If only... 

ERRORS OF MY WAY

Clearly for the sake of comprehension and fulfillment of expectations a significant number of people need to correct the error of their ways and counter the tendency to be economical with the information that is shared. 

GIVE IT TO THEM

Any reluctance to share and disclose the full suite of information which is available, necessary and, indeed, imperative actually impinges on the ability of service providers to offer that which will provide ultimate customer satisfaction.  So, go ahead, give it to them so that they can and will be able to do their job properly. 

KEY STEPS

  • Determine one customer's service needs
  • Establish what information is needed by the service provider to ensure customer satisfaction
  • Share the information and ask that one's confidence is respected
  • Ensure the channels of communication are open
  • Conclude a mutual agreement of performance standards
  • Where appropriate, monitor progress
  • Acknowledge, applaud and celebrate successful completion of the task/s

 


About

Barry Urquhart, MD Marketing Focus, Perth, is the author of Australia's top two selling books on customer service and is an internationally recognised authority on consumer behaviour and creative visual marketing.

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