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Maset News

Volume 43  October 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




I recently gave a presentation in the U.S. on "Is Quality the Key to Total Customer Satisfaction" and was struck by a question voiced by one of the attendees. The question asked was, "What is the return on my investment in training?" Considering today's educational environment in America, it amazes me that this question keeps reappearing. Our K through 12 schools are generally doing a very poor job in educating our young, the high school drop out rate is increasing, even college students are dropping out faster than ever before. Countries that are trying to move into the developed nations group are producing a higher percentage of college graduates and advanced degree students who are better trained and qualified than our students. We are losing this battle on most fronts. All this and we still cannot understand why the rate of return for training and education in the work force is totally irrelevant. We must alter this way of thinking and concentrate on improving the education that is delivered to our students. We must also invest in training and education at all levels in the workplace. Having better educated individuals in every segment of our society is the only way we can continue to hold our own in this global environment. Maset LLC offers a wide array of trainings in many areas to help organizations perform more effectively and be in a position to beat their global competitors. Please visit the web page at to view our many offered workshops.

Our feature article by James Harrington discusses how an airline really messed up in its attempt to provide good customer service. I travel a great deal and regularly run into similar situations. Why can't management realize how little an organization needs to do to repair the damage caused by a mistake? In most cases the cost to fix the damage is insignificant compared to the consequences of not fixing the damage. In this article, James felt that a simple $ 600 PDA would have eliminated the negative effects of the mistake, but the rules only allowed the flight attendant to spend $ 75. I wonder if management realizes how much it will ultimately cost in PR and marketing expense to repair the negative publicity that this factual account of how they treated one of their customers will ultimately cost them. This article appeared in a magazine with a world wide circulation of over 70,000, not counting the Maset News circulation and the number of others that will read the article.

The second article by Jeffrey Mayer talks about a perennial problem in the manufacturing world, specifically how can we prevent the big shipment bulge at the end of the quarter. Jeff suggests breaking down the goal into smaller bite-sized goals that can be met on a daily basis and thereby eliminate the push to meet the quarter end goal. By integrating the complete organization into achieving the smaller targets every day, the end of the quarter goal will be met easily and significant deviations will not occur.

Our QBQ this month is a delightful story of how one person's enthusiasm can dramatically change the way his fellow employees and his customers react to the situation that everyone is placed into. Read this interesting piece and discover how simple it is for you to make a positive difference.




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A number of new Products and Services are in the preparation phase and will be added within the next few months. Watch for them!




In meetings I never approach a person with the assumption that the solution that I'm most comfortable with is the answer to the problem. The approach that I've found works best is to clearly understand what the stated situation and concerns are and recommend other resources if my expertise will not solve their problem.



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



Recognize that indecision is often a form of procrastination. There is a time for deliberation and a time for action. When it is time to act, act with boldness. -- If you're not making any mistakes, you're not doing anything significant. -- The best time of the day to make important decisions is during your "prime time"- the hours when you're in top form, have the clearest perspective, can think faster and better.

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



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

  • Pessimist: A person that looks both ways when crossing a one way street.




THE $7,000 SNAFU
Confronting the "not my problem" response to customer service

By H. James Harrington

What does quality cost? In the airline industry, it costs a lot. I just returned from a trip to the World Quality Congress held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The lowest cost of a roundtrip ticket by class was:

  • Economy: $1,024
  • Business: $8,100 (7.9 X more expensive than economy)
  • First class: $12,000 (11.7x more expensive than economy)

Well, I'm a big man, so I decided to pay the extra 700 percent (i.e., $7,076) to fly business class. For that much money I was expecting very high-quality service because most other aspects of airline travel are the same. For example:

  • You go to and from the same place.
  • It takes the same amount of time to get there.
  • Your luggage is unloaded at the same time as other classes.
  • The same soft drinks are served in all classes.
  • Plastic dinnerware is used throughout.

Granted, the food on British Airways is a little better in business class, but the biggest difference is that the seats recline so that you get a good night's rest. That was important to me because I was traveling for 46 hours, arriving at nine in the morning and scheduled to begin work at noon.

As luck would have it, my seat wouldn't recline at all, although the flight attendants worked on it diligently. One pushed buttons while another pushed on the seat's back, and still another attendant pulled on the seat itself-all to no avail. After more than 30 minutes of trying, the purser told me that the seat couldn't be fixed and that no others were available in either business or first class.

To make me feel better, he told me to pick out something from the airline's "Shopping the World" folder, and he would give it to me to make up for the inconvenience. After looking through the folder, I selected a Sony CLIE handheld PDA. I figured if I couldn't sleep, at least I'd have a new toy to learn how to operate and help pass the time. I turned in my choice to a flight attendant, and about 45 minutes later, another flight attendant returned to, inform me that I couldn't have the PDA because it cost about $600. I had to limit my selection to no more than $75. There was very little in the folder for less than $75-some perfume, toys and candy but not much more. Even a woman's scarf cost more than $80.

I'd paid more than a $7,000 premium for the convenience of a reclining seat, but when the airline failed to provide that service, it was unwilling to give me a $600 gift to make up for the problem. Thus, the gift that was intended to make me happy became a negative factor.

I was then asked to provide information about my return flight: day, time and flight number. I thought the company was planning on doing something to make up for this inconvenience on my return flight. Perhaps I'd be upgraded to first class, or at least some special services would be provided. Though my expectations were high, in the end I was disappointed again. I received no special consideration.

When I picked up my luggage in Dubai, my suitcase was open and my clothes and PC were jumbled in a large plastic sack. I took the sack to the complaint office and was told that my luggage must have been unlatched when I checked it. We stuffed the clothes back into the suitcase, and I snapped it shut. I put my PC in my briefcase. When I got to my hotel room, I received a call from the bell captain informing me that my bag had come apart and my clothes had fallen out. When I closely examined the suitcase, I could see that it had been hit on the side, breaking the latches.

Before returning home, I taped the suitcase together and explained the problem to the counter attendant in Dubai. She told me to talk to the complaint department in San Francisco. In San Francisco, I was told to take the bag back to where I'd bought it and ask the store to replace it. If that business was unwilling to replace the suitcase, I should bring it back to San Francisco airport, and they'd see if they could have it fixed. (Note: It's 120 miles roundtrip to the San Francisco airport from my house.)

When I took the suitcase to the store I'd bought it from, the shop clerk looked at it and said it had been mishandled and therefore the store wasn't responsible for repairing it.

You can see that British Airways met my requirements: It got me and my luggage to Dubai and back, but it fell far short of meeting my expectations. The airline industry, and many other service organizations, could learn from this example. When a customer is dissatisfied, don't promise something you can't deliver, don't set expectations in his or her mind that you can't fulfill and don't push a dissatisfied customer's problems off onto someone else. Once a customer's problem is defined, you must stay with it until it has been solved.

About the author
    H. James Harrington is CEO of the Harrington Institute Inc. and chairman of the board of Harrington Group. He has more than 45 years of experience as a quality professional and is the author of 22 books. Visit his Web site at

    Reprinted with permission of the author. Originally appeared in Quality Digest, February 2004, p. 24.




Think of Every Week As If It's The End Of The Quarter
by Jeffrey Mayer

"Jeff, I've got a question for you."

"What is it, Tom?" One of my consulting clients asked.

"Why is it that when the end of the quarter approaches I work very hard to close my sales opportunities so I can hit my numbers and make quota. But I don't work nearly as hard at the beginning of the quarter."

"The end of the quarter is your deadline. You're running out of time. You've got to buckle down. You're forced to concentrate. If you don't make your numbers, your sales manager isn't going to be happy and you're going to be called on the carpet for poor performance.

"But, Tom, if I may ask, what are you doing with your time during the first two months of the quarter?"

There was a L-O-N-G, pregnant pause.

"I don't really know. But I do know that I'm not nearly as productive during the first eight to nine weeks as I am during the last three weeks of the quarter," Tom replied.

"Successful performers play mind-games with themselves so they can improve their focus and level of concentration. This helps them hit their targets and achieve their goals. They do this by breaking down their large goals into much smaller ones.

"So here's an idea: Think of every week as if it were the end of the quarter.

"That will force you to stay focused on the work, tasks, projects and opportunities at hand. Do the things that generate great results, and stop doing everything else."

Tom grabbed this simple idea and ran with it. Over the next few months his sales - and income - rose dramatically because he was now focused on weekly results instead of quarterly results.

Create A Sense Of Urgency

Sometimes the goal is too far away to be meaningful. As a result, there's no sense of urgency.

This is the easy way to break down your goals:

  1. Take your quarterly goals and break them down into monthly goals.
  2. Turn your monthly goals into weekly goals.
  3. Turn your weekly goals into daily goals.
  4. Turn your daily goals into morning and afternoon goals.

Here's the KEY question:

What activities do I need to be doing every morning and every afternoon to achieve my daily goals?

You can't manage results. But you can manage your activities. When you do the right thing - day after day, after day - you get the right results.

Create a plan - with a step-by-step process - and work the plan.

The final step is to record your daily results on a spreadsheet and match them to your goals.

With clarity of focus you'll be much more successful.

Reprinted with permission from "Jeffrey Mayer's Newsletter"(Copyright, 2003, Jeffrey J. Mayer, subscribe to Jeff's free newsletter, visit




QBQ! (The Question Behind the Question) QuickNote #17
Living Like Larry

It was 10 PM in Albuquerque and my flight home to Tucson through Phoenix had been delayed due to bad weather. I now wouldn't be in till after 2 AM. But things improved quickly thanks to an airport security officer named Larry. He will forever "raise the bar" for TSA officers at airports everywhere!

Larry was directing passengers to several lines for baggage x-ray and security checks. What was totally surprising, however, was Larry's approach to his job. Instead of the typical employee pointing travelers to line number one or two, Larry proudly introduced himself to about thirty passengers by shouting, "Good evening everyone, my name is Larry. I'll be helping you through security tonight. And just so you all know, it's my birthday!"

Well, I couldn't contain myself after seeing - and feeling - his enthusiasm so I shouted back, "Happy birthday, Larry!" He giggled and said, "It's not really my birthday, I just love the attention!" Then he asked the folks next in line, "How many in your party?" They replied, "Three." He responded, "Smoking or non?"

Meanwhile, a new line had been opened. As he waved several people into it, he quoted the movie "Finding Nemo" by chanting, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!" Everyone cracked up! By now, I couldn't help but be amazed at how Larry's attitude buoyed so many weary travelers. Then to the group behind me he declared, "Hi, everyone! I'm Larry!" And like a group attending a self-help seminar, the crowd enthusiastically replied in unison, "Hi, Larry!" As they moved toward the scanners he joyfully delivered their instructions. I trudged on to my gate as Larry's cheerful voice faded into the background.

And I was better for the experience.

And, John, the best part was actually watching the other TSA officers working nearby. They were smiling from a distance seemingly wanting to have as much fun as Larry - but not appearing to know how. What a shame that the only thing holding any of us back from doing so is ... ourselves!

A QBQ! reader
District Manager

Larry made a choice to have fun that night, and his choice delighted many travelers. Instead of asking lousy questions like "When will these people learn the rules?" and "Why don't I get paid more?" he embodied personal accountability by asking QBQs such as: "What can I do right now to serve my customers?" and "How can I exhibit enthusiasm for my job?"

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all had a little of Larry in us to cheer others on?

Living like Larry is a worthy goal.

John G. Miller
Author of QBQ!
To subscribe to QBQ! QuickNotes click on




  • Future tips from Our School for Managers will include topics in Coaching, Goal Setting, Time Management, Communication, Delegation and many others.
  • Sales and marketing workshops
  • A new workshop - Mentoring for Employee Success
  • GoalCentrix - Driving Effective Plan Execution
  • Online resources for HR professionals:
  • RxSales, a sales-based expert performance system
  • ProActive Styles & Values, a behavioral assessment designed to foster proactive participation
  • Leadership Benchmark, a unique 360 degree tool that profiles the state of leadership conditions in an organization
  • Management Competency Assessment, a comprehensive 360 degree profiling tool that covers 50 behaviors in 5 key managerial effectiveness areas
  • CHECKpoint an internet-based survey that provides a pulse reading of an organization's health in four critical areas
  • A new links page to connect you to other sites of interest and value to you




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