Apathy is Worse than Ignorance

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Apathy is Worse than Ignorance

Encourager-In-Chief: August 2nd, 2017

Mistakes can be valuable.

Which do you find more frustrating: Apathy or ignorance? Let me paint you a picture to help illustrate my point. A few years ago, I was holding my seminars at a local college. I was responsible for setting up the room. The college employed an outside cleaning service to keep the place clean.

I remember coming in to my regular classroom in January to do my very first seminar of that year. When I put my belongings down, I noticed a broken piece of plastic on the floor in the corner. I thought nothing of it because I knew the school used a cleaning service. Yet, week after week, I would return to that same classroom and see the broken piece of plastic on the floor. Of course, it didn’t stay there forever. It was actually picked up and thrown away…in June!

One day, I came into the classroom, along with one of the school administrators who wanted to make sure my room was clean. It looked like somebody had smashed a pink jawbreaker into the carpet. The two of us tried to pick up the larger pieces, but it was clear that they were not all going to come up without a vacuum cleaner. That’s not a problem, I thought. The school has a cleaning service.

They always seemed to run the vacuum cleaner whenever I was conducting my class there anyway. Unfortunately, six weeks later, the lingering remains of the pink jaw breaker were still on the floor in my classroom. After numerous attempts, I finally asked if I could speak with the owner of the company. As luck would have it, he happened to be there in person that day. When I explained the condition of my classroom, his comment was, “I’m satisfied with the service we deliver here.”

He pointed out that his cleaning service couldn’t get in to clean the room with a vacuum cleaner because they were always there when my classes are in session. I pointed out that twice in the last six weeks, I didn’t have seminars at that location during my normal time. I also said, “I realize that you’re not here every day, but you are here every week.”

Ignorance is when you don’t know you have a problem and the customer experiences poor service. Apathy is when the customer tells you that you have a problem and you’re satisfied with your service. Be sure you are setting your standards higher than your customers.

Good enough? The customer will decide.
- Tom Peters

This excerpt is taken from my Managing the Process and the Outcome seminar.

Legendary Customer Service VI: Mastering The Process And The Outcome


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