by Bill, Management

Just Own It

2 Comments 26 August 2010

We have long advocated that organizations should take great care in the selection, training, and apportioning of responsibility to customer facing employees. And, that the organization should do everything possible to prevent those staffers from being placed in the line of fire of customers who are unnecessarily angered by internal systemic defects. No rocket science there.

Two days ago I sent a problem note to Comcast via their website about our recent experience with extremely slow Internet service. And, as usual, got a note telling me that, “We have received your e mail and thank you for using Comcast’s online email support. One of our Comcast customer support representatives will get back to you, yada, yada.”

A few minutes ago, I answered a phone call from Comcast. It quickly became apparent that the caller knew nothing about my service issue, but was intent on selling me a more “valuable” service bundle. About a half minute into her spiel when she came up for air the first time, I politely cut her off and declined the offer. Then, I told the representative about my service problem and asked if perhaps she could help me with that. “Oh, no sir, you have to call 1-800-COMCAST.” You can’t help me, I asked again? “No sir, you have to call 1-800-COMCAST.” Click.

Here’s a suggestion. Maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems of late that most organizations are heavily in “dumbing down mode” and thus hell-bent on communicating  and managing via an ever-increasing number of internal policies and rules. Perhaps we’re just too tired to think.

Though as recently as this morning, in a Fresh Milk article we have pleaded with leaders to avoid the perils of an over-moderated, under-led workforce, here’s a new policy that I think every (repeat, every) organization should adopt: No matter how it comes about, if you become aware of a customer problem, you own it. Translation: You are responsible for telling the customer that you will help them, finding the right person internally to deal with the matter, and then closing the loop with the customer. My guess is that customer service gets a lot better (from the customer’s vantage point) and the greater benefit just might be that everyone is reminded a little more frequently where their paycheck comes from. What do you think?

Now, as for Comcast, I’m still waiting.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at, or follow him on Twitter at



- who has written 227 posts on Contented Cows.

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2 Comments so far

  1. Melissa Mendoza says:

    Hi there.

    My name is Melissa Mendoza and I work for Comcast Corporate HQ in Philadelphia. I apologize for the poor experience we created for you. Can you please forward the email you sent to me at the address below? Our team will see that your concerns are addressed. We will also be reviewing your experience above with the leadership team. Thank you for the feedback and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards,
    Melissa Mendoza
    Comcast Customer Connect
    National Customer Operations

  2. Jaxi West says:

    I agree -ownership can be given at any level – it’s just a matter of the managers trusting enough in their employees – which goes back to the question of ‘why did they hire them if they didn’t trust them enough to make intelligent decisions’

    Ownership creates pride and freedom. Pride & freedom automatically increases someone’s desire to do more, to know more and to be their best or strive to be their best.

    People who are given ownership of something have something solid to stand behind and are challenged in a healthy way. This lays a strong foundation for that individual to see themselves in an entirely different (positive) way and feel great about themselves. They become a more mature person, they come to understand they are really respected and not just ‘a number’ or ‘an employee’. They also feel honored that this type of trust is put into them and usually rise to the occassion.

    Giving ownership – no matter where in your organization or with whom – is one of the most empowering things you can do within your organization and it sets a culture of ‘always raising the bar’ and accountability.

    With all the plusses of ownership -you really can do no wrong.

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Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

OUR PREMISE: Having a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things any organization can do for its bottom line.



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