When the Serenity in Leadership team was contracted to deliver a new Customer Focus programme for the company, we first set out to develop an approach that honoured the diverse cultural mix of its senior executives.
Many of these figures began their working lives on the rigs where work generally only stopped for meals and relaxation in a confined environment as there was really nothing else to do. These managers brought this 24/7 working culture with them to dry land, creating widespread frustration amongst their people.
To address these divisions, both between nationalities and working styles, we adapted our workshops to suit those they were being delivered to.
“The Americans liked everything upbeat,” Thom recalls. “But managers from South East Asia, for instance tend to be more reserved and wary of failure. It was important to make sure they never lost face in front of their colleagues.”
With such a complex blend of nationalities, the temptation was to create a programme to match. But when it came to explaining why managers were losing business to start-up competitors, the team decided to keep things simple. We invited a series of clients to tell executives to their faces exactly what it felt like being a customer, what was going well and what desperately needed improving.
“Looking someone in the eye and telling them why the next piece of business might not be coming their way cuts across national boundaries,” Thom reflected.
Though our approach might have raised eyebrows at the United Nations, the team’s down-to-earth diplomacy worked wonders. At the end of one session, a manager immediately emailed an angry customer who was refusing to pay a bill to apologise directly: “The customer paid a disputed invoice of $4.5m shortly afterwards”.
Although the Serenity in Leadership team adapted its delivery across national divides, the end result was always the same. At the end of our time with the firm, all senior executives had a clear understanding of what their company stood for, its ambitions for the future and how these positive attributes should be conveyed to customers to secure more business in the future - all this and having a previously disputed multimillion-dollar bill resolved made for a very happy customer!
“I've been meaning to email you and let you know how pleased I was to hear of the success of the workshop. The program really paid off and I know it will continue to improve each time you run it. I'm a firm believer that professionals should continue to run these workshops and I'll do what I can to influence those in charge. Keep up the good work, as you know we need the education, and please pass on my thanks to the team for a job well done!”