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Pass the baton well to win

Finding creative ways to share those end-users’ stories helps to unite employees and encourage teamwork across departments – and that delivers much improved service to customers. I have sometimes facilitated workshops with the heads of different departments in a company and encouraged them to play what I call the ‘pass the baton’ game. Playing it is simple. Start with the customer, and work your way back through all of the processes that have to work together to deliver the result to the customer. You soon see the workflows that have to operate across silos to succeed. Across the silos, the baton has to be handed on carefully and efficiently for best effect. Very often I have been interested to see how shocked departmental managers are when they recognize how many silo baton passes have to take place to ensure success. Knowing why it’s important makes a huge difference.

I’ve already said that it’s always best to get the customer in to talk directly to employees. There is no doubt that this is more effective than any other method. Better still, bring different customers in regularly, and get them to tell different stories about how products and services impact on them in different ways. Use these different stories to illustrate different points about service or product excellence.

If you can, ask your customers to structure their stories on the problem–solution–benefit formula. What was the challenge they had to face? If you are serving a patient, what challenges and difficulties do they have to endure and what would make their lives easier? If it’s a customer of a service-based organization, what are the challenges they are facing and how do they feel about them? How does your product or service solve those problems? What features provide the biggest advantages? Finally, how do they benefit from the product or service, both from a productivity or financial basis, and emotionally?

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