Stop playing the blame game!
Accountability breeds response-ability
‘It is not my fault”, “the process is the process”, “there is nothing I can do”, “that person should never have told you that”.
As a customer yourself, I am sure you will have been on the receiving end of unaccountable customer service conversations. How did it feel? Did you want to blow your top?
In today’s world too many people avoid being accountable for their actions. When things go wrong, they find someone or something else to blame. Look around you, I’m sure you’ll see examples. Almost daily you can look at cross-sections of society and find areas where accountability (or lack thereof) is debated and questioned.
Being both responsible and accountable equals taking full ownership of life. And though the process may not always be easy, it does offer tangible benefits. Taking personal responsibility for your actions leads to healthier relationships with your friends, family and colleagues.
In the commercial world, customer conversations suddenly change, the blame game stops, and the focus moves to fixing the problem.
We are in a tough period right now, where fear and anxiety are rife, and customer patience is easily tested. For frontline service teams, it is very easy to slip into the blame game. We are not saying it is easy to remain accountable when faced with the current problems that Covid-19 presents us, but if you take nothing else from this post, make it this; we are all in control of the choices we make.
On the surface accountability is about owning or taking responsibility for yourself, your actions and your impact on others. We don’t always choose to behave in an accountable way but it’s about recognising that whatever choice you make; the result directly links back to your decision.
If you have a situation in your life that needs to change then how you view it will massively determine whether you do something about it, or not. For example, if you’ve always wanted to get fitter but never quite get round to doing any exercise, then maybe the current lockdown circumstances will mean you view your one opportunity to leave the house as a way of getting started.
The Accountability Ladder is a model for describing the different stages of understanding and behaviour in being accountable. It’s a tool we use every day at Blue Sky both with our customers and in our own operation, to help us understand why we may not be getting the results we want out of life. Where you are on the Accountability Ladder directly affects that lens and your chances of actually making a change.
The Accountability Ladder
The Accountability Ladder has eight levels of accountability that allow us to step back, evaluate and really look at the choices we make and how we handle different situations.The top four rungs describe accountable behaviours (things that happen because of you) and the bottom four describe victim behaviours (things that happen to you). Below the line is the place where mood hoovers thrive, it is also the place where nothing new happens. If you’re rolling around below the line, blaming others making excuses or just waiting for something to magically become different, then nothing can change and, if that’s what you want and you’re happy there, then that’s OK, there is no judgement in accountability.
If you really want something to change then you have to make a choice and the more time you can spend towards the top of the ladder, the more opportunities you can open up for yourself and your team and the more attainable your goals will be. Holding yourself accountable is the foundation of a successful mindset.
Employees and customers want to interact with people who are accountable; it is one of the main building blocks of trust.
Accountability isn’t just about the things that you do, it’s in the way that you think and who you are.
What about accountability and customer experience?
When it comes to customer service conversations, we have all been on the wrong end of low accountability conversations and it doesn’t feel good, easy or very human. As a customer it is infuriating when we are met with ‘It is not our fault’ or ‘It was customer service’s fault… ’What customers want is people to have accountable conversations; they are not looking to see whose fault it is they just want their issue resolved and quickly.
So how can front-line people demonstrate accountability in customer conversations? We’ve outlined three key ways below:
- Spirit and intent – how the front-line person convey their intent to help through their tone of voice and attitude toward the customer
- Language – through the types of words used. So accountable language would sound like ‘Yes I can get that sorted for you’ vs. ‘I can’t do that for you, it is not our policy’
- Action – there is no point promising the customer something and then not following through with action. Customers want to know what is going to be done to resolve their enquiry or what is going to happen next. If the issue cannot be fixed first time the customer is informed of next steps and reassured that any promises will be met.
Accountability doesn’t guarantee that you always get the result you want…
It means that you’ve acted with integrity in the choices you make and the actions you take and can stand behind them because they are congruent with what is important to you. Regardless of where your actions are, in the workplace or personally, when you make deliberate choices, you are in control. Your decisions are the opportunities for creating your own success and for the possibility of inspiring others. You can choose to influence what happens in your life, rather than watch events happen to you.
Success is measured not just by your actions, but how you conduct yourself through the conversations you have every day.
If you’d like to hear more about this topic, we’re hosting a webinar on Tuesday 14th April 14:30 GMT, where we’ll be sharing our insight on the mindset of Accountability, coupled with the skills of Adapt your Style and Confirm Next Steps – Click here to join.
We hope to see you there!