Making a profound distinction between a contractual relationship and a covenantal marriage, the pastor at my nephew’s wedding ceremony described the differences:
Covenant relationships, he said, are based on trust, require giving, and are offered permanently. On the other hand, contractual relationships are based on mistrust, protecting one’s own assets, and offer escape clauses.
Isn’t it sad that in our business world we have contractual relationships with our external customers and external suppliers that start with an agreement based on mistrust?
Typical business relationships are centered around what we are going to get and what we feel we need to protect. Neither party expects the relationship to last a lifetime.
When there is a slight hiccup in the relationship, everyone seems to grab their contract to look to see if their “rights” have been violated so they can blame someone else for the hiccup.
Insight: A trustworthy person trusts other people.
Can you just imagine what your relationship would be like with your external customers and external suppliers if there were no contract? I’m talking about an agreement that is approved only with a handshake or with “a man’s good word”!
I’m talking about a relationship that is based solely on trust without borders. You would be focused on what you are going to give to the other person, and you’d expect the relationship to last forever! WOW!!!
Every leader can achieve the best results for their external customers by following two mind-bending approaches.
I’ve been writing in recent blog posts about how my company implemented the Nside/Outside (internal customer) principle:
Our service to our external customers can only be as good as our service to each other.- Bobby Albert
Also, in a previous blog post <click here>, I wrote about how my company took on the attitude of an upside-down organization chart.
As the President/CEO, I took on the attitude that every employee was my internal customer.
And I, as an internal supplier, had the responsibility to serve, support, and equip every employee with excellence.
1. Be the Best Internal Customer
I know this approach sounds counter intuitive!
But you, as the leader or the employee, will want to take-on the attitude to be the best internal customer by…
- Keeping internal supplier(s) informed.
- Making it easier for them to serve you.
- Developing trusting relationships over time as they learn to know they can count on you.
- Providing your internal supplier(s) with timely feedback on how their service level affects you.
- Routinely provide acknowledgement and appreciation to those who continually put you in a position to deliver/supply outstanding service to your internal customers or external customers.
Insight: Behaviors that are acknowledged and affirmed get repeated.
In order to keep this attitude top-of-mind, it helps to continually ask yourself, “How can I be the best internal customer to my internal supplier(s), enabling them to serve me better?”
Be the Best External Customer
Again, I know this sounds counter intuitive!
But if you took on the same attitude as above toward your external suppliers, how do you think it would “enhance your business relationships as you drive for results”?
Carefully select your external suppliers so you can partner with them and have high expectations that they will continually position you to serve your external customers with excellence.
Some would say that the two approaches to improving customer service above require a “change in your mind-set”.
I’d venture to say that they require a “change in your heart-set.” By this I mean to say a shift in your emotional and spiritual condition.
That is why I call this principle the Nside/Outside because…
As an internal or external customer, do you have a covenant relationship with your internal and external suppliers? Would your internal or external suppliers value you as their best internal or external customer they have? Could you share your comments <here> and share this blog post with a co-worker or friend?