President, Lefkoe Institute

Limiting beliefs can sabotage your company. Keep your employees happy and engaged with these tips.

June 17, 2011

In several earlier posts I wrote about how limiting beliefs can sabotage your organization and provided several examples of companies that had experienced radical change—and increased profits—as a result of changing some of their employees’ beliefs.

In today’s post, I’d like to provide an additional illustration of how changing a few limiting beliefs can make more of a difference in your organization’s success than any other factor.

Many years ago, my firm helped several of the “Baby Bells” improve the customer service of their service technicians. (This happened just after they were split off from AT&T.) Suddenly, they had real competition and customers could take their business elsewhere if they didn’t like the service they received.

All of the regional phone companies quickly provided training sessions for thousands of technicians. Unfortunately, the attendees referred to their classes as “Charm School,” to show how little they valued the training, and most of the technicians kept doing what they had always done. As a result, customer service ratings improved very little despite millions of dollars spent on repeated training sessions.

We started with New Jersey Bell (now a part of Verizon), where we worked with over a thousand technicians. We knew that giving them more “charm school” wouldn’t improve anything—they already knew how management wanted them to treat customers, and they knew why. They just didn’t believe that they should do it.

What we did do is help the service technicians find the belief that made them feel that customer service wasn’t their job. We discovered that most of them believed, “I am a service technician and my job is to install, fix and maintain equipment.”

And because of this belief, when they were asked to listen to and take care of customers, they thought, “That’s not my job” and they resisted doing it.

We took them through a simple process I had developed that helps employees in an organization eliminate a belief they formed in the past and replace it with a more useful belief in the present. I described this process in detail in two earlier posts: Do You Have A Hard Time Making Decisions?, and How To Change The Thinking In Your Organization.

Once they completed the process they discovered that it now made more sense to think of themselves as “Customer Satisfiers,” whose job is “to ensure that our customers are happy with our service.”

As a result, they took on entirely new behaviors to support this belief such as:

  • Introducing themselves to clients when they arrived at the work site.
  • Keeping the clients informed of their progress during the day.
  • Explaining to the client in as much detail as the client wanted exactly what they had done.
  • Offering suggestions for preventative maintenance.
  • Making sure that the customer was satisfied before they left, not merely making sure that all the equipment worked.

Customer satisfaction surveys the company conducted showed an immediate improvement after this belief shift, increasing from the mid-70s to the mid-90s.

You can make similar changes in your organizations. Change a limiting belief of some of your employees and they will change their behavior—different behavior can lead to more innovation, improved customer service, reduced costs and a significantly better bottom line.

Try it. You have nothing to lose and a more successful organization to gain.