This may sound a bit trite, but the more I learn about client service excellence and great leadership, the more obvious it is that it's all about caring. Combine all the practical experience with all the scholarly theories one can assemble, and it comes down to who cares the most.
When I say caring, I mean caring about everything and everyone - results, relationships, employees, clients, vendors, media, etc. Caring fuels passion and an indomitable will to win. Sometimes when I watch attorneys preparing and defending a client's innocence in a court of law, I think about the stakes. It's often about whether a man will spend the rest of his life in prison or go home to his family. The stakes don't get much higher than that, so if you're not prepared to do the work it takes to prevail ( to care enough), then the defendant needs another lawyer. In the communication business, it's when the client needs a new agency.
A few years ago, I worked for Mullen for a brief time. I participated in a new business pitch one day, and the CEO Joe Grimaldi closed the presentation by stating to the prospect: "You won't come across another agency who will "care" more than Mullen about your business and your success!" I'd had been at the agency just long enough at the time to want to stand up in that moment and say, "he's right, you know!" I had worked for a number of agencies over the years, and it was the first time in my life I had ever heard those words from a CEO delivered with such sincerity. What's more, I knew the words were backed by a culture that he, Edward Boches, and others had built over the years that could actually deliver on such an assertion.
At Mullen, everybody cares! Fortunately, the client was astute enough to believe him and Mullen won the business. I would imagine the agency continues to serve that client today with the same level of caring that was demonstrated during the pitch. That's because it's who they are.
We're still in the midst of a difficult economy, where the stakes for most enterprises are higher than ever. If you believe in the premise that whoever cares the most wins, then it may be time to ask, how much do I care? And is it enough?