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Service? What service. June 21, 2012

Posted by wooddickinson in 1st National Bank of Omaha, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, Flo, KitchenAid, Life Coach, Progressive, service, Systems Thinking, Thermador, Tom Peters.
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For the most part customer-service has become an oxymoron(1). As of late when I call customer-service the answer is “no way.” For example, we have a KitchenAid trash compactor sort of for the last five years. I say that because we’re on our third one. In five years I remind you. For the last of those five years the compactor has worked about 20% of the time. That’s probably generous. The same part would break and the unit wouldn’t stop trying to work when it was supposed to. It would crush the trash then the Ram would come back up but it would never stop. We’d have to jerk the door open to stop it. Beyond that if we put trash in and close the door it would start up on its own. I would finally switch it off and get our huge trash can from the garage. It looked good in our remodeled kitchen.

We’d call the service man and after the customary wait of 3 days he’d show up between 9 and noon. Say the same part needed repair, call and leave while we all waited for the part to come in. What I thought was a hoot was instead of the serviceperson returning to the shop to get the part it would be mailed to our home! We’d have to call the service company and do all this again. He’d put the part in and with in 2 days it would do the same thing.

Finally after a year they seem to have fixed the stupid compactor. I called “customer-service” and told them I’d paid for a service contract for the last year and had virtually no use of the compactor so now that it is “fixed” I wanted a year service-contract for free. Does that sound like I’m asking too much?

I was. I got told by everyone up the chain of command, “No way.” In those words. Really, that’s what they’d say. I finally got ahold of a person in the corporate office and repeated my request. I asked if Mrs. KitchenAid would mind having this unit in her house? I’d pay the shipping and installation. The response was I’d get my free year service-contract. It took me hours to accomplish this so I wouldn’t recommend KitchAid for anything.

Now I’m going through the same things with Thermador for a gas range and freezer. They haven’t worked properly since day one. Now 5 years down the road I offered the same deal. I’d pay shipping and installation to see if Mrs. CEO of Thermador was happy with these products. Of course she wouldn’t so some repair company is coming out today to “evaluate” the units. In the words of Queen Victoria, “We are not amused.”

This week my online banking with 1st National Bank of Omaha stopped working. Calls to customer-service only told me I had lost several accounts and my wife could not talk to anyone because she didn’t have my social security number. She is on all the accounts by the way.

Again I just asked for the president. I got the ubiquitous “someone” in the president’s office. I find that so funning. When I was president of Dickinson Theatres that someone in the president’s office was me. I didn’t have any “people.” I asked this women where the president was and she said she didn’t know! You think I was really talking to someone in the president’s office? I don’t think so. How insulting. She did fix my online banking though. I’ll give her that.

Okay so that’s KitchenAid, Thermador, and 1st National Bank of Omaha. All with no can do customer-service that required hours on the phone and requests to speak to the presidents but the presidents were all to busy doing something more important. Maybe playing golf.

Now it is Progressive Insurance (thankfully not my insurance company). Anyone know Flo’s number?

The point here is simple. The most important person in all of these companies isn’t the CEO or President. It’s me. The Customer. If I wasn’t around where would they be? Mr. And Mrs. KitchenAid wouldn’t have a job. You get my point! I’m so over this kind of “customer-service” I’m sick. It’s everywhere. No one can answer a phone, no president of any company will talk to a lowly customer. I guess that’s like getting your hand’s dirty. Oh god not another customer!

Help me Tom Peters. You’re my only hope…


1 a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (as cruel kindness); broadly : something (as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements (military intelligence) – Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Union Woes February 23, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in Change, shared vision, Systems Thinking.
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A rally of the trade union UNISON in Oxford du...

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According to Yahoo! News (HERE) The governor of the state is trying to save $165M.  I’m sorry but we must face facts.  There isn’t enough money and enough taxes to counter this kind of problem.  It runs ram-pet through all states and the Federal Government.  The current answer is Tax more, Spend more, pass the buck to our children.

I’m not speaking a political opinion just recounting facts.  Now the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on 1/21/2011 the union membership information for 2010.

I’ll quote:

“In 2010, 7.6 million public sector employees belonged to a union, compared with 7.1 million union workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public sector workers (36.2 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private sector workers (6.9 percent). Within the public sector, local government workers had the highest union membership rate, 42.3 percent. This group includes workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and fire fighters. Private sector industries with high unionization rates included transportation and utilities (21.8 percent), telecommunications (15.8 percent), and construction (13.1 percent). In 2010, low unionization rates occurred in agriculture and related industries (1.6 percent) and in financial activities (2.0 percent). (See table 3.)” Source: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm

What is obvious is more of us are not in a union than those who are.  No one cares much about private sector unions even though they do effect the cost of goods, it is the public sector (government workers) that the voting public should be worried about.

Public policy has been to bend over for public sector labor unions thus driving the cost of government into the stratosphere. Now unions are not the only reason we have out of control spending on the local, state and federal level but it is a significant part.  Here again we have a minority holding a majority hostage for political gain.

I understand we are talking about peoples lives but consider the fact that all the non-union workers, employers and corporate risk takers that drive business growth have no such protection.  They are villains and takers.  Especially management even though these people create the jobs the union folks fill.  When the unions should be supporting management so the company is successful they act as a drain possibly driving the company out of business. All that happens to the union employee is lay off or getting fired.  The business owner’s life is ruined by a business failure.

I’m not going into the corporate greed argument always pulled out of the hat because almost all businesses run honestly.

Now, what does all this mean?  Looking at current trends in societal anger about tax and spend I can for see a revolt against the public sector employees and the politicians who support them.  This could get bloody because unlike taxes where workers say, “Let the rich pay,” this will be their own jobs on the line. The workers will have to pay.

It’s obvious to all of us that state and federal governments are bloated.  Departments are too large, spending is out of control and staffing to expansive.  When a politician tries to get a grip on this just look at Wisconsin to see the reaction.  All unions rally behind government employees even though we as a nation can’t afford them.

This country is on a collision course and many people are living in a fantasy world when it comes to this issue.

Where does vision come from? October 29, 2010

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, Life Coach.
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In the 7 Habits we teach to Begin with the end in mind. That means you need to have a sense of purpose in your life. You need to look ahead and determine what it is you want to create as well as what legacy you want to leave behind.

I use this habit for almost everything I do. Before I begin a project or plan a family vacation knowing what the ends in mind are makes a big difference. When you are trying to go beyond simple goal setting into developing a vision of your life then you need to realize you are the creator. What is it you want to create?

You must have a rudder to move you in the direction you want to go. I remember sailing one day in Pleasant Bay off Cape Cod when the pin that held the rudder in place just fell out and sunk to the bottom. It was a rental boat so foolishly I assumed they checked this kind of stuff before they sent a boat out. I don’t do that any more.

It was completely hopeless trying different ways to fix the rudder in place. Sailboats steer by having water pass around the rudder. When that happens the water exerts a lot of pressure on the rudder. You just can’t hold it in place. Luckily we were not too far from the dock when this happened (we could have been a mile away across the bay) so we got the attention of someone to send out a motor boat and pull us in.

On a sailboat, with a working rudder, you can’t sail directly to your destination. You sail on a tack that is determined by the direction of the wind and where you want to end up. If you try to fight the wind it will always win. This means you may have to zig zag around to get to your destination. I think life is much like that. If you have a vision of what it is you want to create you have to be prepared to do some of that same zig zag stuff to get to your destination

To me vision comes from your mental creation of what it is you want. Vision should be larger and encompassing the smaller goals that are really the outposts along the way.

Now as to what that vision should be, well that’s up to you. What excites you, makes you feel passionate and alive is a good indicator you’re getting close.


Are you in control of you life? October 22, 2010

Posted by wooddickinson in Change, consulting, shared vision.
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Every day I hear on the radio, TV in advertisements and in news reporting that no one really knows what the future holds.  This leaves a person wondering if they have any control over their lives at all.  Now that new massive government programs are in place, companies have no idea how to handle things like health care.

The unknown is, can I afford to keep my company healthcare or do I just drop it forcing every one on the public program?  How many jobs will this cost me?

It is more like how many jobs will it cost all of us.  Being a consultant I meet with many organization from small mom and pop’s to Universities.  I hear the very same story.  I don’t know if I will have enough money?  The individual, which is where business starts, feels scared so he doesn’t buy anything.  I’ll pass on the lawn over-seeding this year or cut back in how many times I go out to eat and then watch the cost of those places.  Little things a million times become big things.  Small companies fail, cut backs happen, unemployment remains unchanged.

There are many things we can do to control our lives.  Eat out less.  Go to the movies less.  Skip shopping trips.  Skip vacations.  On and on but at some point when we’ve done all we can do then you ask yourself, “Am I in control of my life?”

The stress level around me is way up.  Miss a payment by a day and people call millions of times harassing you for the check that is in the mail.  Patients has gone out the door and so has wisdom.

I feel that I can be in control of my life.  I have to decide where I stand.  Today American’s need to decide what the vision of the future is going to be.  Big government control and a socialistic economy or a free economy with smaller government and less tax burden and over regulation.

The town I work in is Mission Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City.  They just don’t have enough money to do everything they want to so the government has instituted a driveway tax!  You will be taxed by the linear feet of concrete or asphalt you have in your driveway.  Maybe a $70 tax increase on every home but the kicker is when you get to the Target store they will have to pay about $65,000 in tax.  Now I ask you where will Target get that money from?  They project earnings and staff and order goods based on that projected revenue.  Out of that revenue there needs to be a profit or Target as a company can’t grow and create more jobs.

The way I see it this tax will cost Mission at least 3 to 4 jobs just at Target.  It will put a strain on the store which will cause the corporate office to decide if it is or isn’t worth having a store in Mission and BANG.

Go to my website and vote by clicking HERE.  Somehow we DO need to be in control of our own lives.


Getting the Basics Right October 7, 2010

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, Life Coach, shared vision.
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Times are hard now and there’s always two things that suffer when a company gets worried about money issues. The first is IT. Information Technology, even thought it is the back bone of business, is always cut. Staff is reduced and infrastructure is left to languish. Next is HR. Sure I need some Human Resource people to help in hiring and especially firing (no “laying off”) people but training, skills improvement, leadership and the like can be put on hold. The very time you need something like a strong 7 Habits program started, or executives need coaches the company cuts those efforts.

I know, I’ve been there. Even as the leader of an organization it can get difficult to get employees support for strengthening IT and initiating a strong leadership program, working to create a new organizational structure by learning what it is that you are doing right and wrong. The CEO feels he will be looked upon as wasteful and neglectful if he has to lay off people yet he spends money on an executive coach.

The very things that can help the organization survive and thrive during difficult times are the things that are shut off when they are needed most. If you face tough economics  now and find that laying off people is inevitable then so be it but stress innovation for survival to the rest. There must be trust with in an organization and a lot of CEOs just feel like trust can’t happen when layoffs are occurring and pay increases are lacking.

So what to do? Be open about the corporations condition. Engage everyone in the process of reorganization so a shared vision of what needs to take place is had by all. This may take consulting help which does spend money but in the long run it may save some jobs, stop knee-jerk reactions and most of all help to build trust. If the consultant or even an executive coach seems to be offering ideas that can be formed into action plans that restructure your organization to be more effective no one will be complaining as If top management involves all levels of employees in the effort to become a more effective organization. Then the trust level will go up even as some (but maybe fewer) people are laid off.

Don’t take the easy way out by just doing business as usual and making cutbacks and causing fear among your work force. You don’t need the who’s next mentality becoming the prevailing norm. That will cut productivity as people worry if they will have a job tomorrow and reduce innovation because who wants to create new ideas or products or processes when they may get the pink slip this Friday.

I would suggest the CEO hire an executive coach that will think differently and offer alternatives and use consultants when needed to help guide the company through change. The change has to be real and substantive. It must involve everyone so a shared vision is created, trust increased and everyone feeling they are part of the solution not pawns in a chess game.

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