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Great Service Follows Gravity

In this transcript, Clay Clark (US Small Business Administration Entrepreneur of the Year) talks with Lee Cockerell (man who managed 43,000 employees at Walt Disney World Resort) about customer service training and the "great service follows gravity" principle on Thrive15.com!

Clay Clark:    In your book you talked about great service follows gravity. What does that mean?

Lee Cockerell:    Yeah, the chapter was great service follows the law of gravity. It all starts at the top. Your company's going to be as good as you want it to be. They're going to be as good as you want them to be. It goes downhill. Your children are going to be good because the parents. It goes down. You don't blame these people down here. If you got poor service in a restaurant, it started up here. It didn't start down there.

Clay Clark:    It starts up here.

Lee Cockerell:    It flows down.

Clay Clark:    The buck stops here.

Clay Clark:    Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Lee Cockerell:    We see it. Poor leader ...

Clay Clark:    One of the things I noticed when I was growing our companies is that when I would get on the phone and tell the customer, "I apologize. It's my fault. I accept responsibility for you having an issue. It's obviously my fault. In your mind what could I have done better?" I found a lot of times it made one, the employees respect the situation more. It made the customer ...

Lee Cockerell:    They saw you do it.

Clay Clark:    Yeah, but I remember how uncomfortable because when you start a business you start to think well, things will be good if just you people, if you people would get it together, we would be fine. Then you start realizing, my wife was like, "Honey, I think you are allowing you people. It's actually your fault."

Lee Cockerell:    We are them. 

Clay Clark:    Yeah, we are them.

Lee Cockerell:    That's what I tell them. We always say those people, we are them.

Clay Clark:    Okay. Now, one of the thing you talked about a little bit is not getting bored with the basics and having a daily routine. What do you mean by that?

Lee Cockerell:    See, for me the basics in life, if I had to just spout them out, friendliness, cleanliness, kindness, empathy, being available for people, telling people the truth, training. Nothing to do with technology. These are just basic principles which will never change. 

    Technology may change in the next 100 years a lot, but these principles, having good relationships with people, trusting people, people trusting you because you have ethics. Real basics, honesty, ethics. I guarantee you every day as a parent, if you teach your kids the basics, that's what's going to make them successful. Not where they go to college. I don't care if they go to the local junior college, they'll go to college. If they know the basics, they're going to be successful.

Clay Clark:    Or in your case they didn't graduate from college.

Lee Cockerell:    Right.

Clay Clark:    Right? In my case, didn't graduate from college, but if you can learn these principles you can have success even if you don't graduate.

Lee Cockerell:    If you grew up in my family you better not be lying. You better be honest. This is Oklahoma too. Yeah. I learned those things from my grandmother. Tell the truth. We see it every day. People get in trouble, not for what they did, because they lie.

Clay Clark:    It kind of leads in here to the next question I had here for you is, you said in your book you asked yourself, what would Mom do? What does that mean?

Lee Cockerell:    I always think about, it was always a good one because would it be okay for your mother to know everything you did and everything you said every day? How you spoke to somebody, something inappropriate you did, would you like your mom to know that? Would she be proud of you for it?

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    I thought about that a lot when I was back there and that manager was scared because Lee Cockerell's coming to town. Would my mom like that? Mother, she'd have a talk with you. "Don't do that, Lee. That's not the way you treat people." I always just think if your mom would be okay with it, it's probably okay to do it.

Clay Clark:    I like that. I like that phrase because I know as a Christian I have a certain perspective and some people where those bracelets that say, "What would Jesus do?" I think but everybody, regardless of your faith, can understand the idea what would Mom do?

Lee Cockerell:    In the UK they printed my book and it's What Would Mum Do?

Clay Clark:    Mum.

Lee Cockerell:    Instead of trash, it's rubbish.

Clay Clark:    Everyone can relate to it regardless of what culture you're in.

Lee Cockerell:    What would Mum do? 

Clay Clark:    What would Mum do? Now ...

Lee Cockerell:    By the way, mothers are different than fathers. You ever seen a professional player when he says, "Hi Mom," on the TV?

Clay Clark:    Yeah.

Lee Cockerell:    Have you ever heard him say, "Hi Dad,"? Very seldom. Maybe Tiger Woods. Hi Mom.

Clay Clark:    Yeah.

Lee Cockerell:    Mother's Day. Millions of more people go out to dinner on Mother's Day than they do on Father's Day.

Clay Clark:    What's that all about? Come on. As far as you said you're being an ecologist. What does that mean?

Lee Cockerell:    I decided that was my job at Disney. It wasn't to worry about security or transportation. I had the experts doing that. I told people I was the Chief Environmentalist. I was the ecologist. When they say, "What's that mean?", I said I woke up every morning thought about how I could use my position, my authority to create an environment and a culture where everybody wakes up in the morning and knows they matter. They want to come to work. They feel proud. Create the culture and environment.

Clay Clark:    Let's say you're at Disney and there's five people working in this restaurant. In Disney there's a lot of different themed restaurants. There's one guy that just has a bad attitude. He's kind of ruining your ecosystem.

Lee Cockerell:    He's polluting. He's polluting.

Clay Clark:    How would you deal with that guy?

Lee Cockerell:    He would get better or get gone.

Clay Clark:    Okay.

Lee Cockerell:    Like a car that's smoking out of the tailpipe. Fix the car or ...

Clay Clark:    You said at Disney you want to be happy or else.

Lee Cockerell:    Yeah. You don't have to be happy because we sell happiness. You've got to be professional or else too frankly, by the way. I'm sure you've got a lot of problems, but when you come to work you have to be a professional. That's all. I think people don't understand that we all contribute to every environment we walk into, whether it's a hotel or if I walk into Starbucks. I can make the environment better by me behaving.

 

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