A Directv subcontractor was at my house today installing a DVR(I tried, but I just can’t live without one) and when he was finished, he asked if I would mind speaking to his supervisor on the phone. His company requires that the technicians call into the office prior to leaving so that the supervisor can ask the customer about the experience. Are you satisfied with the technician? Was he helpful and friendly? Did he explain how to use the remote? At any point I could have gone off the ranch and torpedoed the guy’s day. But I didn’t; he was good. Nonetheless, this company does not mind asking the questions and dealing with the answers. Then above and beyond that, he left me with a customer feedback sheet with his company’s contact information. I guess if I felt intimidated about telling the “truth” on the phone while he stood beside me, I could always email in what I really thought later.
We love to pat ourselves on the backs for a job well done, but are we willing to ask the hard questions that can prompt uncomfortable answers? Have you ever been part of a team or committee that did this; isolated in a “bubble” refusing to hear the voices from the outside? Or when a voice did sneak in through the cracks, the problem rested with him/her and not us? Or refused to shop the competition with the attitude that they can’t show us anything? I think this is a dangerous game for any business or organization to play. I bet the successful competitors are asking these hard questions and using the answers to improve their products and services. The Bible says “iron sharpens iron” and although criticism can hurt, it can also be constructive.
Putting aside the business perspective, a more important issue is for us as individuals. Are we asking ourselves the hard questions? Am I being the best husband I can be? (Ouch!) How can I improve? Can I step it up with my kids? Am I a good friend? Do I represent Christ well? Businesses will come and they will all eventually go, but these personal questions bear eternal significance.