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Maset News

Volume 42  September 20, 2004

Message From Charles Loew
Comments From Our Readers
New On The Maset Web Site
Helpful Hints from fellow Practitioners
Tips from Our School for Managers
One Liners
Feature Of This Issue
Second Feature Of This Issue
QBQ! QuickNote
Coming in the Next Few Issues


Welcome to MASET News. A monthly publication dedicated to the communication between MASET and our many interested friends, customers and potential customers




As I provide extensive consulting in Asia, I am amazed at how competitive some of the Asian organizations are. They are rapidly adopting the "Western Methodologies" and are very quality and service competitive. If the organizations in the Western economies want to stay competitive, the time has come to really work on improving team work, reducing defects and non value activities. The focus must shift back to providing customers with total satisfaction in all aspects of the product, service and relationship. Contact Maset for a discussion on how we can help you at

Our first feature article is titled "SERVICE POWER - Tweak your customer or tweak your system?" In this article, Ron Kaufman features a major hotel that has totally lost focus on its customer by adjusting the system to meet its own needs and totally ignoring their customers' needs. He compares this to a second hotel that has gone in the other direction and now offers an honest 24 hour stay. This is providing true total customer service, even though it causes the operations to be less efficient.

Our second feature article, "Success Thoughts: Send Me a Proposal" by Jeffrey Mayer, runs parallel to the issue of being sure that the person whom you have asked for a report, study or investigation fully understand your desires and limits. I think the proposal request described is quite similar. Let me have your thoughts.

Our QBQ article by John G. Miller this month deals with personal accountability, great service and how so few people really understand what that means. How can you as a leader in your organization get all your employees to feel personally accountable and thereby provide great service to your customers? Contact us if you need help in this area at




  • I found your comment regarding the possibility of developing a forum enabling some of your faithful readers to communicate with each other to be exciting. Can we hear more about this? - NYC




This month we are pleased to add another feature to the Maset News, "Tips from Our School for Managers" assembled by Mr. Andrew E. Schwartz, President of A.E. Schwartz & Associates. Included topics are Coaching, Goal Setting, Communication, Delegation and many others. Please let us have your comments on this section.




    The only constant thing today is change.
  • If you want to succeed you must be willing to try something new.
  • Identified problem is not a problem - it is an opportunity for improvement.



Tips from Our School for Managers
- by Andrew E. Schwartz



This knowledge is the basis for the use of practically any training device or medium you can name. For example, knowledge of the existence of and need for rational content is the elemental basis for outlining that attempt and understanding the various ways of doing so. Similarly, knowledge of the existence of and need for physical content is the basis and reason for the use of any form of audio-visual aid, graphics, illustrations, or other sensory communicative device. Finally, an underlying grasp of the existence of and need for emotional content is the basis for the use of what is commonly known as emotion appeal in communicating an idea.

Copyright A.E. Schwartz & Associates, all rights reserved
For more information:



ONE LINERS - "To make you think and/or smile"

  • Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.




Tweak your customer or tweak your system?

By Ron Kaufman

The Disneyland Hotel recently tarnished Mickey's reputation with an influential customer from Seattle. Mark S. stayed at a hotel inside the park with his family for three days. He attended a legal seminar while his family enjoyed Disney rides, ate Disney meals and spent Disney plenty. His seminar ended at noon on the third day, but hotel checkout was 11:00 am.

On the second night Mark asked for a "late checkout" until 1:00 or 2:00 pm the following day. Staff at the Front Desk refused to give him an answer. They said it was too late and he would have to ask again at 7:00 am.

Mark was in the lobby promptly at 7:00 am. But when he asked for a short check-out extension, the Front Office Manager flatly refused. He said, "If I give you a late check out, others will want one, too."

Mark appealed for just two hours to complete his seminar and get his family with small children safely packed out of the room. The manager replied, "If you leave late, you'll mess up the schedule for our cleaners."

Ouch! So much for customer service when leaving the House of the Mouse. Too bad the Front Office Manager didn't know that last impressions are lasting impressions.

By contrast...

Raffles Hotel now has a policy of flexible check-in and check-out so guests may enjoy a full 24-hour stay, no matter what time they check in or out. Now that's convenient. That's hospitality.
That's impeccable value and service.

"Raffles 24" is now available in all Raffles Hotels & Resorts.
No wonder they are among the fastest growing and most admired brands in the world.

Note: Implementing this policy requires more communication between hotel teams and departments. But what are your staff and systems really for? Scheduling cleaners or taking care of customers?

Key Learning Point: The purpose of your staff and systems is to serve your customers better. When customers make requests outside of normal procedures, your job is to tweak the system, not the customer.

Action Steps: When customers ask for service outside your normal procedures, you have a choice: either teach your customers to follow procedures (through advance advice and information), or adapt your procedures to please your customers (through innovation and continuous improvement).

Reprinted with permission of the author. Copyright, Ron Kaufman. All rights reserved.
For more information and a sample monthly newsletter, visit




Success Thoughts: Send Me A Proposal
by Jeffrey Mayer

Shirley, a consulting client, was all excited. Earlier in the day she had been talking with Tom who works for Acme Manufacturing in the IT department.

She was telling me of the 'wonderful' phone conversation she had had with Tom about her company's new software products. At the conclusion he told her, "That sounds very interesting. Send me a proposal."

Shirley hung up the phone, called corporate to get more information, and then spent the next 45 minutes putting a detailed presentation together. She put it into an envelope and mailed it to Tom that afternoon. She was feeling so wonderful that she didn't feel like making any more calls. So she did miscellaneous paperwork and other 'stuff' for the balance of the day.

When we spoke the following morning, Shirley began the conversation by telling me all about the wonderful opportunity she had found with Tom. After listening to her for a few minutes, I asked a few questions:

"How did you get to Tom in the first place?"

"I had been referred to Bill in the marketing department. When I spoke with Bill he told me that any software purchases must first go through the IT department. He gave me Tom's name and phone number and I called him."

"How much time did you spend on the phone with Bill?" I asked.

"About three to five minutes."

"And when you spoke with Tom, how long did that conversation last?"

"Maybe ten minutes," Shirley answered.

"Tom asked me lots of questions about my software. What it did, how it worked. He wanted lots of technical information about how it would perform with his computer system and over his network."

"Then he said that my software sounded very interesting to him and asked me to put the proposal together."

"Why does ACME need your software? What problems do they have that it will solve?"

A long pause followed. Finally, Shirley said, "I wasn't able to find out much about their situation because Tom was asking me a lot of technical questions."

"Okay. What do you know about Tom?"

"What do you mean?"

"Let's start with some of the basics. What his position/title? Where does he fit in the organization? How do they make their purchasing decisions?"

There was dead silence on the phone.

"I don't know," Shirley said in a barely audible whisper.

"Now that you've sent Tom this proposal, what happens next?"

"Well, . . ." Shirley stammered, "I guess I'll call him up in a week or two to see if he's received my material."

"Did you schedule an appointment with him to discuss this before you got off the phone?"

"No, I didn't."

Wasting Her Time

As our conversation continued, Shirley began to realize that she didn't have a prospect at all. Tom-in his friendly and very polite way-probably asks everybody to send him information. It's his way of blowing them off.

He couldn't care less how much time Shirley has invested-WASTED-in creating a proposal and then following up. It's not his problem. Her material will end up in the "I'll read this later pile." If it's not immediately thrown away.

She'll diligently follow up and 30, 60 or 90 days later be told, "We're not really interested." Talk about wasted time, effort, energy and money.

Qualify Your Prospect

Before you send out a proposal you need to qualify your prospect. You should know the answers to these six questions:

  • What is the customer's problem?
  • What is the financial impact of the problem?
  • Is the person you're speaking to responsible for this problem?
  • Is this a problem the customer wants to solve?
  • Does this person have the authority to make a decision?
  • What is their process for making buying decisions?

The best way to get some-and maybe all-of these answers is over the telephone. Ask great questions and you'll be able to quickly separate buyers from tire kickers.

Ask for Commitments

Most importantly, ask for commitments every step of the way.

When you're asked to create a proposal, don't just mail, fax or e-mail it out. Schedule a meeting-or phone call-to discuss it further. If your prospect won't schedule a meeting he's sending a signal that he isn't 'really' interested.

Shirley learned that she should always ask for a commitment to move the sales process forward at the conclusion of each phone conversation or meeting.

She's no longer getting the runaround. She's spending more time with qualified and interested buyers and closing more sales.

Reprinted with permission from "Jeffrey Mayer's Newsletter"(Copyright, 2003, Jeffrey J. Mayer,




QBQ! (The Question Behind the Question) QuickNote #16

After I spoke at a leadership conference in Long Beach, CA, on Personal Accountability and the QBQ!, one of the 2,400 attendees emailed this story. It's an inspiring example of personal accountability in action which I encourage you to share with others. The QBQ makes a real difference in people's lives! Enjoy.

"John, I saw QBQ! in action on Sunday morning as we checked out of the hotel. Several of us were departing together and we called down to the valet ninety minutes early to schedule our cab to the Long Beach airport. When we arrived at the lobby on time, there were countless other groups checking out and it was absolute chaos.

We saw five bellmen helping guests depart. When we asked Bellman #1 about our cab, he sent us to catch the 'Super Shuttle' which was not what we wanted. Upon talking to Bellman #2 we were told, 'I didn't take your call.' Bellman #3 stated emphatically: 'I am not working with your party.'

By now, we were hot, bothered and frustrated, not to mention fearful of missing our flight. We tried again with Bellman #4 who said, 'We don't know what happened to your cab, but we can have one here in 10 minutes to take you to LAX.' We clarified that we were going to the Long Beach airport, not LAX, to which he replied, 'Oh. Well, then it'll be a longer wait.'

There we stood, in a sea of people, luggage and cars, just staring at each other in disbelief. Believe me: Not one of us was smiling!

But then our QBQ! Hero appeared: The Fifth Bellman. He approached us and said with a smile, 'If you can wait just a moment, I will go get the hotel van and take you there myself.' Soon we were all smiling!

Certainly, his solution was wonderful all by itself, but get this: He then took us through a fast-food drive-thru for a quick lunch because we were now running behind and wouldn't have time to eat at the airport. What a guy! Not sure if this fella has ever read QBQ!, John, but he sure exemplifies it. It makes me wonder why personal accountability and great service are so hard to find. This gentleman's actions and attitude made it all seem so simple. We'll never forget him!"

This is a terrific, real-life story illustrating how excellent service really is just that simple. Instead of asking unproductive questions like, "Why do I have to do everything myself?" or "Who's going to solve the problem?" it's far better to ask QBQs such as, "What can I do to contribute?" and "How can I make a difference?" When we ask The Question Behind the Question and practice personal accountability, we not only solve problems and serve others well, we also create wonderful memories for people.

That's what The Fifth Bellman did. I want to do that too, don't you?

John G. Miller
author of the QBQ! book




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