What Would Your Lucy Say?
The D.O.M. staff was in full attendance at the NBAA Maintenance Management Conference (MMMC2015) in Portland earlier this month. I would like to thank everyone who stopped by out booth to share your feedback chat with us.
For those who weren’t able to make the conference, you missed a lot of good presentations. I especially enjoyed the keynote speaker, David Cottrell (www.davidcottrell.com). Cottrell is the author of more than 25 business books and is the CEO and president of CornerStone Leadership Institute (www.cornerstoneleadership.com). I had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Cottrell after his presentation and told him he inspired me to write my next editorial column about one of his talking points – What Would Your Lucy Say?
Cottrell worked for FedEx for 10 years. In 1990, FedEx was intent on winning the Malcolm Baldrige Award. The Award recognizes U.S. companies for their achievements in quality and business performance. Cottrell was part of the team at FedEx that prepared the data necessary for the presentation for the Award committee. This is the story about FedEx and the Malcolm Baldrige award as told by Cottrell during his keynote presentation:
The original Malcolm Baldrige award had to do with a lot of statistical process control and numbers because it was a manufacturing-type award. So we were converting all of that into service. We did all of that, and were very proud of what we had accomplished. We worked our way through, spending a lot of time and money on it. We didn’t know exactly the process that was going to take place. We had a meeting in Baltimore to cull out the people from winning. You couldn’t win the Award there, but you could certainly get eliminated there. Fred Smith (who founded FedEx in 1971) was at the meeting, as was the president and board members. We had reams of paper to justify everything that we were saying. We were fired up! We were ready!
What we didn’t know was that there was an advocate for every company. It wasn’t just us doing the presentation – there was an advocate for every company who would go up and say, ‘This is why I think that FedEx or whoever should win the Award or not.”
It came time for our advocate to speak. The person got up there and stood up at the podium. He was around 70 years old. We had never seen him before. He said, “Let me tell you why I’m the advocate for FedEx to achieve this Award. I live outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When I send a package, I go to a kiosk in the middle of a parking lot. The first time I sent a package, I gave it to the person in the kiosk. I saw the name Lucy on her nametag.
I asked her, “Lucy, tell me, how do you like working here?”
“I love working at FedEx,” she replied.
“Well, that’s interesting. Why?” I asked.
“Because I’m treated with dignity and respect. I like my manager. I like his communication process. I like dealing with people like you. I like being out here with the customers. I love working here!”
The next time I took a package to her, I asked, “What’s important at FedEx? What drives the company?”
“That’s interesting that you ask,” she replied. “There are three things that are really important to us – people, service and profit. If we take care of our people, they’ll deliver impeccable service to our customers who, in turn, will provide the profit necessary for our growth.”
The third time I dropped off a package with Lucy, I asked her, “What happens with my package? How do I know that you don’t just send it around?”
She said, “Stick your head in the window and I’ll show you.”
Lucy then showed me how FedEx was accountable for my package all along the way.
FedEx’s advocate explained this story to the Malcolm Baldrige group. He then turned to the founder of FedEx and said, “Mr. Smith – I appreciate what you have done. You have created a wonderful business. Hundreds of thousands of people are paid because of your concept. I know that there is probably a lot of good stuff in those binders you have prepared. But the reason that I support FedEx for this award is because of the person that I deal with – Lucy. If she’s in the middle of a parking lot outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and she’s a thrilled employee, she knows the corporate objective and she knows what happens to things as they work through your system, I’ve got to believe that message has gone through pretty much your entire organization.”
FedEx won the award that year, becoming the first service company to do so. Up until that the award had been presented to manufacturers.
We might have won that award anyway. I don’t know. What I do know is that a person out there, we had no idea who she was, had a greater impact on achieving the Award than all of the work we had put into it. So the question is – what would YOUR Lucy say?
Every employee can make an impression on a customer. As you look around your company, what will that impression be? You may be the best maintenance shop in the world, but if just one employee gives a bad impression to a customer, you are in jeopardy of losing that customer.