The Gain of Our Loss

When I was a child, my grandparents had a wood-burning stove. One day (despite repeated warnings from both my parents and grandparents), I had an inexplicable urge to place my stomach on the stove. I got burned. Badly. And ever since then, I’ve been extremely conscious of the power of heat. I’m always hyper-alert when I’m cooking or around open flames and extra aware when other children are around heat. It was a painful lesson, but one that has served me well.

I think a myriad of industries are going to look back at this recession and be able to say the very same thing—“It was a painful lesson, but one that has served me well.” After all, capitalistic America was like the young me. Industries thought they were infallible and so they continued to tempt fate by delivering just enough service to “get by.” We know now that was not enough.

And, as we continue to hear about the losses across all business sectors, the stories of lost clients and lost homes, we become a great deal more introspective. We’ve started to scrutinize what practices are making clients leave and what practices are encouraging retention. Because you better believe that if consumers are spending money with your organization, then they are scrutinizing everything you are doing. But, is this is short-term shift towards service-orientation? Or is it a wake-up call?

My money is on the latter. Circumstances that cause great loss often cause the greatest shift in industry consciousness and serve as the impetus for permanent change. Think about airport security before 9/11 and today. What a difference! Today, we are suffering. Simultaneously, we are learning. And I think this will translate into better service nationwide for a long while to come. The pain of this recession, the depth of the losses—both will result in an overall gain and a significant change in the way most industries conduct business.

I want to hear from you! Respond to one, all or none of the questions below. I just want to hear your thoughts!

  • Do you agree with me? Do you think this recession has taught us an unforgettable lesson?
  • Do you disagree? Do you think the lessons learned will be short-lived?
  • Do you have an example of a sustained shift in service consciousness? Or an example of the infallible company mindset that prevailed before the downturn?