So, Scott Stratten wrote an excellent book called "The Book of Business Awesome" (well, half a book -- go check it out here), and it has a bunch of anecdotes and opinions. The best part about reading a book like this, is the warm feeling you get when you read something and think "hey! Scott's right! We do that too!"
One of the things I think Scott is spot-on about is that companies aren't awesome, people are. Companies are just empty shells, pieces of paper and logos on a wall, and have no value without the people within them. Sure, they might have assets like a warehouse of widgets or a patent on a self-tying shoes, but without the people that make those widgets or make connections with other people, it will grind to a halt.
I have a story that starts with one of our clients -- not a giant national corporation, but a small dental office that gives us a handful of files each year to collect. We regularly issue them a cheque for a few hundred dollars each month, and we make a small fraction of that amount. They sent a larger file to our office recently, and because we collected it, we had a cheque for nearly $3000 to issue them. That's still not a large amount for a collection agency to issue, but to this dental office it was a big deal.
So, we have a reasonably good situation here, where the client is getting money they were owed, our company made a few dollars, and that's great for everyone involved, but it got better -- Rachel works at our company and handles this dental client's accounts. She had built up an ongoing relationship with the dental office manager over the phone over several months, so after she collected the big account, she took some time from her day to drive across town and delivered the cheque, and met the client personally.
Now, if you work in the collections industry, there are a number of you who will be shaking your heads for all sorts of reasons:
-> collection agents shouldn't be interacting with clients, that's the sales manager's job
-> a single dental client for a few thousand dollars isn't a big deal for the agency.
-> collection agents don't have time to leave work to see clients, they need to be making calls!
-> it's dangerous to give that kind of control to a staff member.
I've worked for other companies where the above thinking is the norm, and I think they are not giving the Rachels in their company enough responsibility, credit for their work, or the opportunity to be more than "just a collection agent".
I think Rachel is awesome because she got to make a real personal connection with a client, and got to take credit for all her work -- I agree with Scott that a company isn't a fancy logo, a balance sheet, or even a cheque issued to a client, it's Rachel.
If you have any questions about making real connections with your clients and customers, don't ask me -- ask Scott Stratten, or better yet, ask Rachel. She can be reached at 226-240-7867, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .