Small Remedies Reap Big Rewards: Fix your Broken Windows
What prompted me to write this article was my recent very bad experience with a Health Insurance Company of repute in India, giving me excuses for their lack of customer back-up service and incompetence. And as a Customer, I am supposed to BUY that ?
When is a DIRTY bathroom a broken window? This question could determine your success or failure. Answer that question correctly-and use that answer as a beacon-and your business could dominate its competition indefinitely. Ignore the answer, and you will soon condemn your business to failure.
The “broken windows” theory was first put forth by criminologists James Q. Wilson
And George L. Kelling, concentrating on petty criminal acts like graffiti, purse snatching, or jay walking, and how they can lead to bigger crimes such as murder. Something as small as a broken window sends a signal to those who pass by every day. That means more serious infractions – theft, defacement, violent crime- might be condoned in this area.
If a window in a building is broken and left un-repaired, all other windows will soon be broken because people perceive that the owner of this building and community around it don’t care if this window is broken: They have given up; anarchy reigns here. Do as you will, because nobody cares.
Broken Windows in Business:
That same theory applies to the world of business. If the restroom is out of toilet paper, it signals that management isn’t paying attention to the needs of its people. Perceptions are a vital part of every business, and if a retailer, service provider, or company sends signals that its approach is lackadaisical, its methods halfhearted, and its execution indifferent, the business could suffer severe- and in some cases, irreparable- losses.
When broken windows are ignored, fatal consequences can result. Small things
make a huge difference. We all bear some responsibility to stand up for what we want and have every right to expect from a company to which we give our hard-earned money.
In a Capitalist Society, we assume that a company will do its best to fulfill the desires of its customers. If the company sees sales slipping but doesn’t have data from consumers as to what made them decrease their spending, the company will not know what to fix. Still, businesses that don’t notice and repair their broken windows should not simply be forgiven because their consumers don’t make a fuss. Leaders are responsible to tend their own house- and the time to repair broken windows is the minute they occur.
Prevent Broken Windows: Broken Windows are everywhere, except at the best businesses. I invite you take the Broken Windows for Business Pledge. It’s a serious statement outlining the tenets of the broken windows for business theory:
I hereby pledge that:
•I will pay attention to every detail.
•I will correct any broken windows I find in my business, and I will do so
immediately, with no hesitation.
•I will screen, hire, train and supervise my people to notice and correct broken
windows as soon as possible.
•I will treat each customer like the only customer my business has. I will be on
constant vigil for signs of Broken Windows Hubris and never assume my business is
•I will mystery shop my own business to discover broken windows.
•I will make sure every customer who encounters my business is met with courtesy,
efficiency and a smile.
•I will exceed customer expectations.
•I will make a positive first impression and assume that every impression is a first
•I will make sure that my online and telephone customer service reps solve a
customer’s problem perfectly the first time.
•I will be obsessive and compulsive when it comes to my business.
If you live up to the promises in the pledge and make them second nature, you will discover your business- and your life-running more smoothly than ever before. You will never look at a broken window-or an unbroken one-the same way again.