Here’s Why My Cat Can Never Be A Customer Service Leader

Service KeyboardA touch of independence mixed with patience, possessing a definite superiority complex and territorial. These are some characteristics associated with the common house cat. But what if we in the customer service industry held these same traits dear to our heart?

My cat is not responsible for anyone other than herself. She wakes when she wants, at least not until she hears me rustle in the kitchen, and seems to not have a care in the world. But we have employees that answer to us. They look to us for direction and we must coach and council those that fail to abide by established norms.

Once we are independent of others our team will fail because of lack of leadership and poor cooperation with fellow coworkers. We can’t sit in our big comfy chair so sovereign in our beliefs that we hold no expectation of assistance towards others.

Cats aren’t team players.

Another cat trait is acting as if they are superior to others, even their owners. Indifference is the buzzword most apropos. “Who cares what you’re doing, I’m just staying here”, your cat has told you many times. Try as you might but unless your pockets are full of catnip, she’s not moving.

But what about your customer? You can’t use the same measure to decide the importance of your customer’s actions. When your customer is “in store” your expectations are to tend to their needs, whether or not they hold the human version of catnip…money!

Even a small sale is better than none, but not for your cat.

Ever bring a second cat into the established home of a mature cat? It’s not a pretty sight. The sounds and torment doled-out pale in comparison to the infighting between two adversaries for no other reason than they occupy the same space. Cats are very territorial and have little intent on sharing.

Can you take this same approach to a new member of your team? Of course not. HR would have a field day with you.

But why would you squabble with a new employee? Is it fear of someone new? Or of change? What about losing your power or control over the existing members of your team since you are the established de facto leader?

You cat has already proven she is not suited for customer service, let alone leadership. But what about you?

The customer must be your focus, the customer must take the prize and the customer must be sure that you appreciate their business above all else. Self righteousness and independence won’t build a business, nor provide great service.

Robert K. Greenleaf first coined the phrase “servant leader” in 1970 with the publication of his classic essay, The Servant as Leader, where he writes:

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”

Unless your cat is leading the pack on the Serengeti Plains of Africa, she is no leader and especially not a servant. She is only concerned of her whims and has an appetite second to only a gourmet.

True customer service leaders understand the slow and methodical aspects of service where each step is in harmony with each other. All coworkers and departments are responsible for the proper execution of your product or service. Where one fails the others do too.

Your cat? Well, she only understands one thing…”keep my food dish full and cat box empty!”

Steve DiGioia
WITH 20+ years in the hospitality industry and a lifetime of customer service experience, Steve DiGioia uses storytelling to share real-world tips and tactics to improve your customer service, increase employee morale and provide the experience your customers’ desire. As a customer service trainer, coach, author & speaker, Steve was recently voted one of the “World’s Top 30 Customer Service Professionals” by Global, a “Top 50 Customer Thought Leader” by ICMI and is a featured contributor to many hospitality and customer service websites. Steve continues his pursuit of excellence on his award-winning blog sharing his best tips on customer service, management, and leadership. Follow Steve on all of his social media channels below.




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