The Indiana Pacers, Lance Stephenson, and Taxi Terry…

It’s early on Saturday morning, and I am a bummed out sports fan.

Lance-Stephenson-Blowing-Ear-LeBron-JamesLast night, my favorite basketball team — the Indiana Pacers — where annihilated and eliminated by the Miami Heat.  If you follow sports at all, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the antics of Pacer Lance Stephenson, who — in an attempt to rattle the world’s greatest basketball player, LeBron James — blew in his competitor’s ear, tweaked his face, and in a myriad of other ways simply acted like a total jerk.

To the casual fan, this conduct is bewildering.  To those of us who have followed the soap opera nature of “Good Lance” versus “Bad Lance,” this behavior…in an elimination game during a season that held such incredible promise…is maddening and frustrating beyond description.

  • What does this mean to you?  When I look at the Pacers’ season — something that started so gloriously and ended so ghastly — it’s pretty obvious that where their performance jumped the track was when they started playing so inconsistently.

My forthcoming book is based on the story I’ve been telling for many years about my experiences with a Jacksonville, Florida cab driver named “Taxi Terry.”  It describes the seven lessons I learned from that first single ride — and it’s titled, “7 Tenets of Taxi Terry: How Every Employee Can Create and Deliver an Ultimate Customer Experience.”Taxi Terry book

The fourth of the tenets — which is defined as “one of the founding principles upon which a belief, philosophy, or action is based” — is: Think Logically and Then Act Creatively and Consistently.

For the Pacers, or for YOUR business, you logically draw up a game plan that will create marketplace distinction.  Then, you take action in a creative and consistent manner.  Perhaps in this tenet, the key word is “AND.”

  • Thinking logically without action will have zero impact in the marketplace.  However, acting creatively without consistency dooms you to failure.

Taxi Terry was highly creative in his approach — from opening the experience with, “Are you ready for the best cab ride of your life?” to other various details, he was remarkably innovative while providing a service perceived as a commodity.

However, it’s important to note that he’s consistent.  He’s always waiting at the airport when I arrive.  He always gets me to my destination.  He always has his car clean and serviced.  He’s always friendly and helpful.  It doesn’t matter how creative he may be…if he fails to consistently pick up the passenger who will be paying his fare on time, every time.

Creativity without consistency is catastrophe in business.

The Pacers season was doomed by inconsistency, brought about by what the awesome sports columnist for the Indianapolis Star, Bob Kravitz, called “emotional immaturity.”  Lance’s antics couldn’t be supported by consistent performance…and he evidently isn’t emotionally mature enough, or personally disciplined enough, to deliver what his customers (called “fans”) desired.

(And, as a loyal Pacers supporter…don’t get me started on the inconsistency of Roy Hibbert…)

So that WE don’t fall into the same trap, we’ve got to ask for our careers and organizations:

  1. Are we thinking logically? 
  2. Do we have a game plan that will create distinction in the marketplace?
  3. Are we creative in our approach to customers, prospects, and colleagues?
  4. Perhaps most important, are we CONSISTENT in our delivery of our products and services?
  5. Are we just as consistent in how we create and deliver the customer experience?

Take it from me…your organization doesn’t need more Lance Stephensons…but, to grow your business, you DO require more Taxi Terrys.

Why you don’t want your employees (or customers) to be “happy”

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve fielded multiple calls from speakers bureaus or prospective clients wondering if I could come give a speech on how to make employees or customers more “happy.”

Perhaps it’s because of the monster hit by Pharrell Williams…maybe it’s business books like “The Happiness Advantage” or, “The Happiness Project.”  Heck, maybe it’s even “Happy, Happy, Happy” by reality TV star Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty.”

But, here’s the problem:  I don’t believe you should have a goal to help your employees — or your customers — to be “happy.”

When I read dictionary definitions of “happy,” I see several descriptions of either brief or passing moments that frequently happen of a random nature.  Or, I see other definitions that describe mere “satisfaction” — as in, she was “happy with the level of service she received.”

Maybe this is at the core of my bias — I’ve just finished reading a couple of articles about how lottery winners frequently go bankrupt.  I’m certain they are “happy” beyond description when they discover the numbers of their ticket are perfectly aligned with the results of the serendipitous drawing.  However, given the eventual outcome…do they remain “happy”?  Probably not.

I strongly prefer the word “joy” — or “joyful” — as being infinitely superior to “happy.”

The reason is that “joy” implies both a deeper…and a more sustained and significant…feeling of substantial pleasure and thrill.

The service, for example, at Sullivan’s in Indianapolis makes me happy — however, the reason that I’m a loyal customer is that it is a JOY to eat there.  The individual occasion is one that is happy…but, it’s the sustained pleasure that makes me a repeat and committed customer.

To use a more outrageous example, if the happy lottery winners bought cars and boats with their winnings, those possessions won’t continue to inspire happiness as everything else goes down in flames.  However, if the lucky winners took their gain and contributed to organizations that would continue to do great work even if a personal bankruptcy ensured, a persistent feeling of joy remains a potential outcome.

Don’t get me wrong — individual occasions of happiness are building blocks of sustained joy.  Yet, happiness — at least in the working definition that I’m employing here — can also indicate mere “satisfaction.”  Every study I’ve seen indicates that simply satisfying your customers or employees is a caliber of service that is not high enough to create loyalty and drive retention.

You see, I’m not advocating the point of “not making customers or employees happy” because I prefer an alternative of “making them sad or mad.” 

Rather, I’m strongly suggesting to you that mere “happiness” is a standard that is neither high enough nor prolonged enough for you and your organization.  It’s not enough for you to be endearing…you want to be enduring, as well.

Organizations that create distinction — and deliver an Ultimate Customer Experience ® for both internal and external customers — not only create moments of happiness…they inspire a consistently compelling sense of joy.

 

 

(If you’d like more information on this — it will be addressed in future posts, and in my forthcoming book.)

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