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Friday, July 10, 2009

Soak in With the Enemy

I had a boss in the Army, probably the best boss I ever had in my life, who used to read Sun Tzu's "The Art of War". When he was stressed, he read it and re-read it constantly. I would walk into his office and he would be sitting behind his desk pouring through the book or maybe just holding it up against his forehead like the information was moving through his skull. He would often say, "soak in with the enemy, Captain Hall." He would follow up with, "get inside their heads and think like they do. Know what they think before they do." His point was that you could defeat your enemy if you knew what he was thinking before he did. That way you could anticipate and beat him before he hurt you.

The thing was that many times the enemy was our Commanding General. I don't know if my boss looked at him truly as the enemy although he was an extremely difficult man to deal with. What the General really was, was our customer. My boss was dealing with a very demanding customer.

The way my boss beat the enemy (our General) in the customer service sense was to ask questions, know the General's expectations and what he was thinking, and then respond in such a way as to exceed the General's fact to exceed them before the General even fully knew what they were.

My boss was a great role model. He knew his job was to make his customers know that he and his team were the BEST service providers possible. He never, ever quit and when he or we had a down day in the service department, he would ensure we all redoubled our efforts and attacked the enemy again.

So maybe I should say, "soak in with your customers" so you can provide them the absolute best possible service ever.

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