Your customers won’t want you buying a ticket for the Blame Train!…


I remember long ago paying to see a motivational speaker, who I had been looking forward to seeing for quite some time. As I waited, I was impressed to notice he had a set-up of a laptop, a projector, and a pair of speakers for his presentation – so I thought we were going to be treated to a truly inspirational and professional talk.

We listened to the event-host give an enthusiastic introduction to our speaker. The time was here, and we all applauded while the speaker stood up, smiled and strode confidently to where his laptop was set up.

He took a deep breath, like he was about to deliver an uplifting sermon, pressed a button on his laptop, and…NOTHING!

The projector screen froze, with just his emblazoned name shining back at us.

He smiled again and nervously pressed buttons on the laptop again.

Then, after about a minute of uncomfortable silence, our motivational speaker confidently declared: “I haven’t used this laptop before!”

I must admit, I did feel sympathy towards him as other guests flocked around to help him un-freeze his presentation. But he compounded the situation by saying: “I used have other people to sort all this out for me, so it’s not my fault!”

When he did manage to proceed with his presentation, he constantly made reference to not knowing what was coming next on the slides as he had never delivered that new presentation before.

Not once did he admit that he should have prepared more professionally and road-tested his new presentation in a safe environment prior to the talk. It was the laptop’s fault, it was the slides’ fault…but it was never his fault!

Remembering that event got me thinking about how we deal with our customers, especially when things go wrong.

It’s very easy and tempting to buy a ticket for the Blame Train.

Let me explain what the Blame Train is.

When something goes wrong and the customers are looking at us for answers, we often blame anything and anybody other than ourselves for the problem.

–          It’s not my fault, the supplier didn’t deliver on time

–          It’s not my fault, the computers are down in the office

–          It’s not my fault, the traffic was jammed

When we do this, we’re buying a ticket for the Blame Train – letting someone or something else take the blame away, so we don’t have to take any responsibility for it.

But that’s not what our customers are looking for. What they really want is answers, not excuses – and they want the answers from us.

They want us to take responsibility for finding a solution. They don’t care that the supplier hasn’t delivered on time, or that the computers are down in the office, or that the traffic was jammed.

They want answers, not excuses – they don’t want to see us buying a ticket for the Blame Train!


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