Monday, 10 August 2015

Ego and Customer Service

Ego. What is ego? Ego is defined as a person’s self esteem or sense of self importance. Ego is often accompanied or rather associated with all things negative. I have observed the effects of ego on building managers and I can safely say that on most occasions, ego has gotten in the way of excellence in customer service. On the flip side I have also seen ego save a career and credibility of a person.

My basic belief is that ego prevents a person from believing or admitting that they are wrong. That they made a mistake. Sometimes when serving a customer, when you realise that you or one of your staffs/ colleague had made a mistake all you have to do is admit your mistake and apologise. Once you have accomplished this step, you can than move on and solve the problem on hand. Someone with an alarmingly large ego however is unable to do this.  Admitting that they are wrong is akin to committing one of the seven cardinal sins, its akin to not admitting to murder despite the fact that all evidence points at them. 

Once a person with a huge ego is pointed out their mistake, instead of admitting and apologising, they will start getting defensive and in a worst case scenario  launch into a verbal attack against the customer. 

Let me give you a simple example related to building management; it can be something as simple as a tenant complaining to the building manager that the lights in their hallway is not working and the Building Manager being the busy soul that he is forgets to fix the light. Weeks went by with the tenants tolerating groping through the dark hallway every singe night when finally he has had enough and decided to confront the Building Manager. The Building Manager instead of just admitting that he had forgotten all about fixing the lights went of and be defensive stating a million reasons why he did not fix the lights. This aggravates the tenant even more, leading him to complain against the Building Manager to his superiors etc when the matter can be resolved by a simple apology and the Building Manager taking steps to rectify the lights.

By the way the above example is a true one not just something i imagined . 

The problem with this three lettered word (Ego that is for those of you who are a little slow to catch up …today ) is more widespread amongst older more experienced men. Again this is not something i imagined or made up but something that i unfortunately experienced firsthand on many occasion. 
The higher their rank , the more experienced they are the less likely they will admit they screwed up. If they have it their way they will “fake it till they make it!”. Meaning they will even go to the extent of convincing not just the other party but themselves that what they are doing or advising is right. That they have not made a mistake. The words “ I am sorry i F***ED Up or I don’t know!” are simply not acceptable.

This is simply because the higher you are the more you have to lose. These people are simply afraid of losing their credibility especially in the property or building management industry where your reputation is important not just for your own career but sometimes for your company (depending on the scale of the mistake and situation). 

I guess in the correct situation and circumstances  ego is acceptable. I have personally seen people having both extremes and got away with it. What i am trying to say is I have seen people swallowing the humble pie and admitting their mistake and people convincing others that they haven’t done or said anything wrong gotten away with it. Even the greatest and most successful businessmen and politician (especially) have done both. Sometimes losing your credibility is just not an option for people higher up in the food chain.

In my opinion,people in the frontline, need to be more customer centric than ego centric. We are in the people business, our business model and philosophy must be customer centric model.
i believe building managers must sometimes leave their ego out the door and start becoming more emphatic. Only with this attitude can they understand their customers better and endeavour to solve their problems.

Remember in the property or building management industry, you will need to deal with complains almost on a daily basis. You should therefore adopt an attitude which helps you serve your customers better.