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  October 16, 2015
The Power of Yes...


As a birthday present to myself... I’ve decided to take the week off...

Today our guest blogger is Billie Attaway, a previous contributor to the OptiFuse blog.

Billie and I go back many years while studying entrepreneurship at MIT. Like myself, he is a lifelong learner and serial entrepreneur.

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Do you like being told NO?   I can’t think of anyone who does. Yes-No  It really doesn’t matter what it is for. 

Our family members don’t like it, our co-workers, our friends, our customers, no one likes to hear the word NO. 

In most instances people do not like telling others NO. NO is one of the ultimate negative words.

Now don’t get me wrong there are legitimate times where NO is appropriate, especially when someone is being unfair or trying to take advantage of us.

Let me share my personal experience with NO in one of my companies. 

Our telecom company grew 1,200% in six years and it was a ride! 

While talking with my Operations Manager one day, I heard the Customer Service Representatives (CSR’s) behind me talking with customers and end users. 

In that short conversation with my Operations Manager I overheard the NO word used three times.  For some reason it got my attention and I asked what was the basis for our CSR’s telling our customers NO?

Much to my dismay the reasons were legacy decisions we had made and not updated or rethought.  Here were, for the most part, good customers and end users that were being told NO without any real reason.  These people that were supporting our growth and referring business to us. 

The Managers and I met for a huddle a little later that afternoon and I asked them all to bring examples of why we told our customers NO. I then asked for educated guesses at how many times we had to tell our customers NO.  I was surprised to learn that on a 100 calls in a week as many as twenty callers were told NO. 

Now some of those calls were simply things we could not do, but many of those calls were things we could act upon.

After hearing the examples I asked them what it would cost if we just said YES, to fix the problem or to make the customer/end user happy.  After some discussion we discovered in almost every issue it would cost less than $100 and in most cases a much smaller amount to solve these issues. 

Added to this cost was the CSR’s having to explain why the answer was NO and in some instances the dreaded "It’s Company Policy" was used.

I have to admit inwardly I was a little ashamed of myself for not catching this sooner. 

With the growth we were experiencing this is one area we had not updated.  We had a huddle meeting of CSR’s the next morning and I heard their thoughts and concerns. 

As soon as everyone had voiced their thoughts I made a decision on the spot that any employee of the company could use their judgment based on our core values and make a decision of up to $250 to make a customer/end user happy...

...no questions asked!

Just document the credit or consideration and forward a note to the controller as to what happened and why. 

The change was amazing. 

The CSR’s all smiled and said I had just made their job easier and were all happier that they were empowered to make the customers happy.

The customers and end users were happier and this happiness (now don’t go singing Kum ba yah on me) was reflected in other parts of the company as well.  

This change did several things:

  1. It added raving fans to our customer base, which made it easier to get referrals and add more clients.
  2. It added profitability to our company as we grew from $6,000,000 in sales to $9,000,000 in sales in one year.
  3. It freed up one of the constraints that allowed us to grow without adding more CSR’s.

All of this flowed through the organization and when the company was sold these increases in profits and savings earned a 7.5 times multiple of EBITDA.  All of which added substantially to the monies flowing to the shareholders of the company (most of which were the employees)! 

A very nice ROI!

So what can you do in your company to empower your employees and get them to tell your customers YES?

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Billie Attaway has built and sold many businesses.  He was named the Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst &You once for one business, a finalist a separate time for another business and placed on the Inc. 500 twice.  He is currently a Business Coach, Top Grading Authorized Agent, and a Gazelles Mastering the Rockefeller Habits teacher and lives in Charleston SC.


Jim Kalb Jim Kalb President

Email -  jimk@optifuse.com
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com 
Twitter - @OptiFuse

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