Feel the fear and do it anyway


Almost exactly ten years ago, I conducted some research into Customer Experience.  It wasn’t called Customer Experience in those days; it was called ‘Customer Centricity’.  The research showed that over 80% of organisations had customer management strategies but fewer than 40% had the processes and measures to actually implement the strategy.  We referred to this discrepancy as ‘the Knowing – Doing Gap’ (the title of a very good (although quite heavy) book by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton of the Harvard Business School).  Recently, we reran the research at Blue Sky and it showed that whilst organisations now have the processes and measures in place, they still aren’t actually delivering on their strategies.  It seems the Knowing – Doing gap is still alive and well. And I now reckon we have conclusive evidence as to why this gap exists.

Explore - Feel The Fear - Blue Sky Performance Improvement


People have the direction, the skills, the knowledge, the systems, the processes, the measures, in fact everything they need to deliver a transformed customer experience, but it’s still not happening consistently.

I was working with a retail bank recently.  Their new operating model involved more staff actually talking to customers.  What we observed when we went into branches was similar to what is referred to in social circles as ‘Approach Anxiety’.  Approach Anxiety is the justifiable fear of approaching strangers. People are innately terrified of rejection.  This means they either hide from customers altogether or ask direct closed questions to get the agony over with as quickly as possible.  “Can I help you?” is the most obvious question.  My standard response to this is: “no thanks.”  Sometimes braver staff may ask me “how can I help you?”  to which I generally respond, “I’m fine thanks”.  The reason I respond like this is because I share the same anxiety; I don’t want to look stupid!

The best example of an organisation that does not suffer from Approach Anxiety is Apple.  Go into an Apple store and you will be greeted by people that have all the skills and knowledge to answer anything you may ask.  They also have confidence in their colleagues.  If they don’t know the answer someone in the store will.  They also have confidence in their employer, their brand, their products and services. Building the confidence of your staff does not require you to be richer than the US Government, as Apple apparently now is (who isn’t?), it requires a culture of positive coaching – not simply coaching for correction, but coaching to build the emotional intelligence and confidence of staff at all levels. And if you’re interested in self-help, start by reading Susan Jeffers’ “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”


Simon Daisley - Blue Sky Performance Improvement


Blue Sky Performance Improvement


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2 Responses to “Feel the fear and do it anyway”

  1. Marle Says:

    Very well written… It’s definitely true as I experience this with my call centre staff. Thanks

  2. Simon Daisley Says:

    Thanks for the feedback Marle. I don’t know whether this is true for you, but for me, it’s fascinating watching people in blended call centres where staff have to flex between inbound and outbound calls. Approach anxiety is really obvious then! And the solution?…To paraphrase Bruce Forsyth in ‘Strictly Come Dancing’…”juuuust keep coaching!”

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