Monday, May 9, 2011

The competitive advantage of a “no assholes” policy

I read a great post today over at Brand Builder, by Olivier Blanchard, in which he argues that “The customer-facing organization with the least amount of assholes wins.”

Love it! Not only is it true, but asshole is such an apt description of some of the people we receive poor service (and a bad attitude) from.

I started writing a comment on the blog but my mind kept coming up with points to make so instead of leaving the world’s longest comment and I have decided to write a post (yes, yes, I know I have been sporadically posting but I have good intention to stick to posting more regularly … well I intend to anyway).

You should really head over and read the post here

Ok … you’re back … nice to have you.

It’s often argued that people expect good customer service from everyone these days. It’s a must, a gimmee, you can’t do without it. I agree to a point but people also expect to run into assholes in customer facing roles. It’s just that they don’t know when and where and what brand will provide them with an asshole.

Oliver gives some examples of how to asshole-proof your company – two of which result in assholes working for your competitors – a) Don’t hire assholes (this assumes they stay in the industry and thus work for a competitor) and b) give your current assholes the “opportunity” to go work for your fiercest competitor.

We all know that a competitive advantage is hard to maintain. The beauty of a “no assholes” policy, however, is that it IS a competitive advantage that you can maintain (assuming your competitor aren’t smart enough to read Oliver’s blog and thus do not know that their businesses are invested with assholes).

The further beauty is that time compounds the competitive advantage for you. The longer you ensure that you have no assholes, and the longer your competitors keep damaging their brand by employing assholes, and the longer customers are leaving them and coming to you, then the standard of customer service gap just keeps getting wider. Furthermore, your company will increasingly attract the good staff from competitors, further weakening their position, and new employees into the industry will also be attracted to your company.

It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity and all the while your competitive advantage is becoming easier to maintain (and your organisation a nicer place to work)

The customers are not guilt free in this problem though. It’s not just management’s fault that assholes continue to prosper. The fact that customers can’t stick up for themselves only encourages assholes. Just like a bully.

Now, I don’t mean yelling and carrying on like a goose. I mean put them in their place.I guarantee that saying, in the right tone, calm, but with purpose … “Excuse me, I would appreciate it if you didn’t speak to me like that” or “Excuse me, please do not talk over the top of me. I let you have your say and now I would like you to afford me the same courtesy. May I continue?”

It will make the asshole feel like a child and it will  a long way to helping them keep their heads pulled in. It doesn’t need to be rude, just stern. Don’t be an asshole yourself.


Nathan Bush said...

Nice one Oyster, couldn't agree more. On the other side of it, I once spoke to a CEO of an ad agency who said he would only take on clients who he would feel comfortable having over for a Sunday afternoon BBQ. No asshole clients allowed (not that I've ever met one).