Too Many Indians, Not Enough Chiefs

Once upon a time, the decisions on how to take care of customers were left to a chosen few – the chiefs.  The indians were not permitted to make problems go away… that heady work was left for the guys with the fancy titles and headdresses.  It worked pretty well.  The chiefs enjoyed calling all the shots, and the indians were thankful that they didn’t have to think.

The world doesn’t work that way any more.  In order to succeed in the new economy, we need more chiefs and fewer indians.  We need more cooks in the kitchen.  We need more people who are empowered to make decisions that impact customer service in a positive and meaningful way.

When organizations finally make this move (they must or they will be replaced by competitors that do), most of the indians will be pretty upset.  They like passing the buck; they like someone else being in charge when the invoice is screwed up or the maintenance contract has lapsed.

But like it or not, companies that push the power of controlling the customer experience to the far corners of the workforce, to the receptionist and the service technician, are the ones that will win.  We’ve got plenty of indians.  We need more chiefs.


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