The article below has been published in the “Insurance Journal”, the only magazine focusing insurance industry in Pakistan.
“In search of Excellence” has been declared as one of the most influential master pieces of business writing in American corporate history. The New York Wall Street Journal described it as one of those rare books on management.
The whole work is about the search of the authors for reasons why organizations reach at the top such as among fortune 500 list. They landed at eight attributes out of which, the most important are the two Cs: Common Sense and Customer Care.
Who among the top notch business leaders, academicians, business scholars, management gurus, CEOs or board room meeting holders does not know about practicing common sense or customer care?
What is the difference then?
What is the difference that makes and creates organizations like IBM, Procter and Gamble, General Electric, Bell Labs, Hewlett Packard, Emirates Airline, 3M, Walt Disney, Boeing and the list goes on?
In many of my seminars and training session, people often demand some thing new. This specifically happens when HR managers or department heads are discussing the theme or the training need with us. We often hear sentences like: Hassan, give me some thing new or like we want some thing different to try this time. Or some times even we hear words like: we do not want same old customer care philosophy but some thing dramatic that changes our people quickly.
Where lies the problem?
The Issue:There are two things.
First, people think that for some thing to be better or to be effective, it has to be new. This myth appeared from a bombardment of advertisement on us on a daily basis. Try this new theodo-chloro-zymate in our new tooth paste. Get our latest instant dry leaved conned tea. Find our newer packing more attractive, there are tens of dozens of such examples that we hear and watch daily, which very silently are devastating our thinking and social skills to handle problems.
The second problem lies in being quick. And sadly has its root again in how the advertisement has spoiled our psychologies. Get our instant dissolving head ache tablet. Get in touch in just 3 seconds. Get immediate relief. Our milk brand dissolves quickly. The common message is get results quicker.
The two advertisement trends have lead our people in general and to our managers specifically, to believe that for some thing to be good it has to have two things: it has to be new and it has to be quick.
The issue is that the philosophy of “new and quicker” goes absolutely in reverse to how laws of nature work.
The difference does not lie in knowing some thing new. The difference does not lie in getting some thing quicker. The difference lies in the INTENSITY with which we practice the already known.
The difference lies in sticking to the most basics PRACTICALLY first and then develop a learning based on that practices.
Organizations that stay and rest on the top 100 ranking in the world practice customer care and common sense to intensely, that it goes beyond the thinking of the managers from the third world.
There is no magic wand or tool or a tablet that can get an account manager an overnight result. The interesting irony is that newer and quicker do not hold in the long term. As soon as we know some thing, it immediately is not new and quick any more and we begin our search once again for a better remedy for our solutions.
The impact of newer and quicker:
Since we want new things to happen to us, we ignore the strengths we already have. In our venture to be quicker, we choose NOT to be thorough. We miss important details, very important details about our customers, clients, their needs and the importance of relationships.
The Insurance Industry and Common Sense:
Interestingly common sense and customer care are quite closely knitted.
To be an outstanding insurance consultant in terms of financial achievement as well as in terms of relationships with clients does not require a magical charisma or a John F Kennedy personality. It only takes an insight and some commitment, both of which originate from adherence to common sense.
Let’s have a look at common sense and see how does it help us get better at our selves as well as with our clients and business :
Common sense says to find about your industry as much as possible and then plan and start working.But common sense says again that we do not have to spend weeks on analysis. A couple of days are enough to know.
Using common sense tells us that we do not like people who are manipulators or canny. We like simplicity and straight forwardness.So we better chalk out our marketing and selling tactics on the same principles, being honest.
Common sense tells us that trust comes first and selling results later. We ignore this golden rule and then wonder why Mr. X suddenly backed up from signing the deal?
Common sense tells us again those clients which have obtained insurance services from other firms are most likely to obtain our services too, all we have to do is design a better plan and develop a deeper trust.
But common sense tells us again, that do not keep the plan to ourselves but to actually take that to the decision maker.
We hate people who ignore us after they have sold some thing to us. Don’t we?
Yet we ignore this act of common sense act and ignore our customers in different styles. We miss their calls, or don’t return them. Our frequency of interaction with them drops suddenly to show them our face again in the last week of December.
Common sense guides us to not assume things about clients needs on our own and to ask questions, but tells us again to note them so that we do not forget them.
Commons sense guides us to keep only one focus: how can we make some one feel more comfortable by providing a cushion to their emergencies? How can we assist them in their business by solving their problems?
Good rewards and money comes in when we make lives of other people easy and help them solve their problems. As Jim Rohn said, we can only succeed by making as many other people successful.
Common sense says to prepare and practice for excellence and that means:
a. Working hard and with commitment, spending time for SELF IMPROVEMENT.
b. Read at least one article about insurance industry and how we can improve our service.
c. Try finding out needs of the current industry. Using common sense we can find what is specifically going to happen. Does the earth quake or recent floods create any opportunity for insurance for insurance of goods or for NGOs working in that sector?
d. By keen observation, we can always find out what’s happening and how can we improve their situations.
e. It needs out of the box thinking, thinking and thinking on one question: how best can I help organizations through my services? And try to answer this.
f. To start reading how to write proposals, ad letters, business introduction emails, quotation faxes, EOI or an RFP.
g. To keep in touch with our people whom we have sold insurance, through out the year, on monthly or two monthly basis and to keep a track of our communication in a journal.
We choose to ignore:
We ignore common sense questions, because we are focused on some thing new that gets things done immediately. We think that we do not need further learning. We think it’s enough what we already have. And perhaps our biggest mistake is to confuse knowing with doing. Knowing is never enough, but some times what little we do know, if we do reaps huge rewards.