Training vs. Mind-set in Value Creation


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What we want to create is a H2H environment in our company and with our customers and partners. 

Is it the mind-set or the training that is more important to our Customers and in Value Creation?

While both are extremely important, I believe mind-set changes are overlooked, not because they are not important, but because conventional training does not focus, indeed is not capable of changing mind-sets. Often it is said training is for dogs (sit, bark, roll!) and education for human beings. Mind-set changes are best impacted by self-introspection. 

Why do customers get angry? Why are they happy? What is my role in the customer behavior? Realistically, to change mind-set, we must first build the self-esteem of people. 

Once we have done this, we will find they are more open to ideas. 

Then, we have to build their awareness, which will allow self-evaluation, and self-improvement.

Once we have done this, we can embark on a Continuous Customer Improvement Program (CCIP) led by front facing employees, not executives. We also let the front end employees examine the Customers Bill of Rights. We ask them to comment on how they will ensure this will work and what support they need.

For making this happen, we start Customer Circles, which are led by front facing employees working with Customers and on the CCIP.

During the Customer Circle sessions, these employees will also figure out how to keep the promises made by the company and its Bill of Rights (and also by the employees).

This leads to massive mind-set changes and taking over of ownership of the Customers by the employees. This also means a change of mind-set of the bosses, to let go and instead of always telling people what to do and training them. The bosses then let the employees tell them what the employees are going to do and what help they need from the bosses.

(As an aside, people are more likely than not, told what to or not to do.

 As children, we are told not to reach for the cookie jar, we are told to wipe our faces, not to put our elbows on the table, not to talk with our mouths full, to eat the spinach, and, and, and and. This continues in school, when teachers tell us to stand up and say ‘Good Morning, Teacher’, or to do our homework. 

Being told what to do continue at work. 

Our boss says you will see four customers today. Why would you see a fifth Customer if you had time?)

As mind-set changes occur, we also have to ensure that the employees understand the mission of the company and whether they understand the importance of and how the mission can guide them.

Earlier, I mentioned that for executives to work on mind-set changes, they too have to change, and learn to let go, and let the employees handle Customers. The executives have to learn that they have to stop directing and ordering (and saying thou shalt…), but actually providing a supportive platform for the employees to perform.

Another reason for not working on mind-set changes is that we tend to manage what we measure….the tangibles.

 We have difficulty in working on intangibles because we cannot measure them. We have to learn what is important to Customers, not measure only things that companies wish to measure.

What does a Customer want from a billing process? Accurate bills that are easy to correct if they are not accurate. What does a company wish to measure? Are the bills being paid, and Past due payments. These do not measure the Customers concerns. Worthwhile to measure is percentage of wrong bills, and percentage corrected in one call.

Chip Conley (founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels and author of the New York Times bestselling, EMOTIONAL EQUATIONS) uses the Maslow hierarchy to describe this. He believes Survival, Success and Transform is the Maslow for the corporation. Transform leads to mind-set changes. I believe at Customer Value Foundation, that success often means doing your job and Value Creation means going beyond your job to transform.

I have a number of stories of wonderful experiences in airlines and hotels and in other service renditions and I also have a number of horrible stories. I am sure you, the reader has similar great and horror stories.

Why is there no consistency? Is it the training or the mind-set? I believe with mind-set changes, the number of horror stories will go away. The routine experience we get as Customers is based on training. But when there is a crisis mind-set has to creep in.

Top on my horror stories is when employees feel that their role is to protect the company. The company is always right.

And so they lie. They say that (not in so many words) it is not our fault (implying it is the customers fault). Horror stories include not wanting to help the customer especially during crises hiding behind policies and rules.

An example is when I was downgraded in Brussels on a flight from New York changing planes in Brussels for Delhi, I was told we do not know the rules for a partial refund for a downgrade! Or when we want your money for a flight, you have to pay at once (and no refunds) but when we have to refund, our rules are 30 days.

Don’t companies know this is not right? Do they care or don’t their mind-sets allow them to change?

Customer service departments are trained to solve a customer’s problem. When they solve a less than usual problem, their mind-set does not allow them to initiate a systemic change so that future customers will not face the same issues. Examples of Tata Sky when you want to change an annual plan, you cannot do so without closing and reopening the account. Why can’t their system allow the change of a set box serial number? For or without a fee?

But these companies feel they have a customer centric mind-set, and the Customers do not agree. In fact 56% of all companies feel they are Customer centric and only 12% of Customers agree. Whose mind-set needs to be changed?

One mind-set I wish to change in companies is to get to Zero Complaints.

Executives are ‘trained’ to believe that Customers will always complain and so they cannot move to Zero Complaints (or at least attempt to get there).

They are trained to forget they too are Customers, and training transforms them from being Customers and behave like and become executives! The executive mind-set is often not a Customeric mind-set. And if they start to think like Customers, the conversation they will have is Customer to Customer, not B2C.

Most of us will agree It is true that intangible of happy employees builds the tangible of business success. Moreover while we cannot always make everyone happy, we can set the environment and mind-set to try to make everyone happy

What counts?  H2H: human to human!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gautam Mahajan
Gautam Mahajan, President of Customer Value Foundation is the leading global leader in Customer Value Management. Mr Mahajan worked for a Fortune 50 company in the USA for 17 years and had hand-on experience in consulting, training of leaders, professionals, managers and CEOs from numerous MNCs and local conglomerates like Tata, Birla and Godrej groups. He is also the author of widely acclaimed books "Customer Value Investment: Formula for Sustained Business Success" and "Total Customer Value Management: Transforming Business Thinking." He is Founder Editor of the Journal of Creating Value ( and runs the global conference on Creating Value (


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