What Happens When You Don’t Have Customers

I’ve just spoken in LA on the sound stage that usually houses Bill Maher’s show, which formerly hosted The Price is Right, and is just up the hall from The Young and the Restless. We manhandled some quarter-million-dollar cameras out of the way, and I addressed the “studio audience,” comprising professional speakers. 

My wife and I then headed for LAX to fly to Vegas, where I’m delivering Six Figures to Seven for the first time in the US, followed by the Mentor Summit, and finally the Million Dollar Consulting® College Reunion.

Heading through the first class LAX security line, we came across on-the-job training, where three security people were staring at a screen, making comments, taking notes, and moving no one along. It took over 15 minutes for this laborious screen searching and button pushing. When I told the supervisor that the system was absurd, he patronizingly said, “Oh, thank you, sir,” and then, not knowing my wife was behind me, made a face in front of his subordinates. (Apparently they don’t measure maturity when filling supervisory jobs in Homeland Security.)

When you don’t have customers, you have zero motivation to move anything along efficaciously or urgently. Lines don’t matter, complaints don’t matter, missed connections are not  your concern. Imagine Singapore Airlines, or a Four Seasons Hotel, or Bentley unconcerned about their customers’ perceptions and experiences? There are always the Emirates Airlines, the Ritz-Carlton, and Rolls as alternatives.

The problems with most government operations is that it isn’t clear who the customer is or how satisfaction should be measured. And the customers have no alternatives.  Instead, there are mindless rules and the triumph of means over ends, AKA: bureaucracy.

Of course, none of those bureaucrats is about to fly Air Singapore, stay at the Four Seasons, or drive a Bentley. And, trust me, that’s as it should be.

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.