Values and Moments of Truth

I’m sitting opposite a distressed gentleman who is on the phone. He is demanding the name of the person on the other end of the phone line in the contact centre that he is tied up with.

It’s his fifth call to try and resolve an issue. He says their claim to be ‘responsive’ is a lie. He is frustrated by the experience and that lie. He keeps being told the issue will be resolved and then never hears from anyone again. He can’t hold them to account due to the lack of physicality of the action. He isn’t able to say he won’t leave the store until the issue is resolved. He isn’t in a store. Customer service is a person you can’t even see.

The person on the other end of the line will have multiple calls like this a day. Being told their company isn’t living up to its values will, most likely, be an hourly occurrence. And it won’t hurt. There won’t be the feeling of letting someone down that you get with failing a friend or breaking a human to human promise. There won’t be anything except a desire to get the call resolved some way somehow.

Organisations are too nebulous to make and keep promises. Values being lived throughout an organisation remains a rarity. When an organisation lets someone down we are told the people involved have moved on or that it was an isolated issue or it doesn’t normally happen. There is no heartfelt ‘sorry’ where there is no heart.

I can feel the frustration and helplessness of the man sitting opposite. I can’t help. He is referencing a promise that nobody but a marketing department ever expected to be kept. And maybe not even them. These are the moments of truth of modern life, when you realise the truth is the promises have no accountability sitting behind them.

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3 thoughts on “Values and Moments of Truth

  1. Those values in organisations are at best a standard or a gauge yet they still relate to that “promise” not the life we choose to lead ( through our values). It’s a nonsense isn’t it. Perhaps values & differences are meaningful only in small discrete teams. Beyond that it’s a corporate standard to perform to never to hold as a value.

    Related I think, over this weekend I’ve been thinking about how we help people use their strengths and fulfil their purpose. It seems a good and very individually human thing to do. Yet what responsibility do we take for when our organisational strategy or approach changes and conflicts/contradicts those individuals strengths/purpose? We likely don’t at all. The damage or frustration to the individual is nothing of concern to the intellectually and commercially prudent business decision, ever. I don’t really mean this pessimistically it’s just a reality of a human system vs. a system with humans.

      • “The system” – both constructed by individuals and an individual construct. I can’t help but feel that accountability & care will always revert to the mean… Yet you never see that on a customer charter or on the corporate values…

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