The Ultimate Tool: The Hierarchy Of Yes

In order for an organization to be customer-centric, it needs to have a strong corporate discipline behind everything that it does. It’s too easy, otherwise, for priorities to shift, for immediate problems to take center stage, and for the company’s mission to drift away from its guiding CRM principles. 

That discipline is something that I call the Hierarchy of Yes.

Let’s face it, the thought is nothing new. Someone, somewhere, coined the phrase, “The customer is always right,” and probably unknowingly unleashed untold frustration upon hapless salespeople or support personnel who knew they needed to say yes but couldn’t find a way to do it. Making the customer’s experience a positive one is keeping that customer, and it’s at the core of good customer relationship management.

So how do you make sure the customer is always right? How do you get to yes?

The Hierarchy of Yes is a corporate discipline that starts—and ends—with the understanding that only a team leader (CEO, president, divisional president, or senior VP) has the authority to say no to a customer. All other employees are charged with finding ways, within the corporate mission and guidelines, to say yes to customer requests. In cases where employees cannot produce a positive outcome, they escalate the request up the line until, if necessary, it lands on the desk of the singular person in their group empowered to say no.

The process of implementing and executing the hierarchy of yes infiltrates every area of corporate culture and discipline, including:

  • sales and marketing
  • service, support and training
  • supply chain and operations
  • technology
  • finance

So, in a sense, this means that customer relationship management is no longer the purview of a few people in customer support: it’s the mission of the whole company. And while the company is, as a whole, striving to create the best possible customer experience, it’s also helping itself. Case studies show how an hierarchy of yes structure can significantly improve corporate culture, in every area—from sales and marketing to customer service to technology, finance, and operations and training.

Limiting the options employees have, in terms of what the end result must look like (yes), creates an amazing amount of transparency in the organization, in terms of showing the company exactly what issues get in the way of saying yes to every customer, every day.

Amazingly, the company itself changes, and what we see happen is this:

  • Teamwork becomes a priority.
  • Mentoring becomes a priority.
  • Success becomes a way of life.

What also happens is that each of the roles in the “partnership” changes over time, as a result of the Hierarchy of Yes initiatives, and gradually we find that each of these individuals becomes more accountable for success, better manages expectations, builds a higher sense of value and self-esteem, and becomes a force that energizes the entire corporate culture.

The Hierarchy of Yes is one simple statement of purpose that infiltrates every nook and cranny of corporate culture … until it becomes the corporate culture. It is simple to initiate and impossible not to embrace, quickly identifying the company’s winners and leaders. 

Companies using the Hierarchy of Yes identify leaders who can build success, empower employees to exceed customer goals and expectations, significantly improve internal and external customer satisfaction, and build a culture driving toward success.

So, it is very much the ultimate CRM tool. Think about what might happen to your customer relationship management—and your corporate culture—if you implemented it in your company! You might just be surprised at the results.

1 comment about "The Ultimate Tool: The Hierarchy Of Yes ".
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  1. Erna Alfred from StratX, October 16, 2012 at 9:52 a.m.

    My favorite part of this post is this sentence: "...All other employees are charged with finding ways, within the corporate mission and guidelines, to say yes to customer requests."

    Great advice to help companies continue driving value for their customers, as well as creating a foundation of customer-centricity.

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