Responsibility + Sensitivity = Cooperative Authority + Customer Service Leadership

E.J. wrote from the Middle East about a situation calling for customer service leadership:

Ron, I was wondering if you can give me some advice. I work as a salesman and the company owner is a DICTATOR. Nothing is accepted unless he personally approves it. That’s causing us big problems since we can’t sell on the spot. And if the bargain isn’t completed at the moment, someone else will come and take it. Salesmen here don’t have any authority to do anything. We get embarrassed in front of our clients. This is not professional. And if anyone talks about this problem, the owner simply says, “It’s my money and not yours.” What can I do to convince him? I would appreciate your ideas about this.

Excellent question, E.J. Here’s my reply:

Sometimes business owners and department heads can be very restrictive. Sometimes it is due to insecurity, sometimes to past bad experiences, sometimes they are simply unsure how to loosen the reins and let staff have a role in customer service leadership.

One course of action you can take is to give your company owner a proposal outlining the exact situations you are concerned about, and the parameters you would like to be able to approve on-the-spot for your clients.

Make the guidelines conservative (at first) so you can be reasonably sure he will approve your initial request for some power in regard to customer service leadership. Such a proposal would get things going in the right direction and give you some (although very limited) freedom.

Work within this approved range for a couple of weeks or months, still going back to him as agreed (and with a smile) for personal approval of everything else.

After some time has passed and he can see you are following the rules, ask him to stretch the range just a bit more, and then a bit more, and then…you get the idea.

The key is not to fight him, push him or even complain about him to gain some customer service leadership! Rather, work with him to create a clear protocol and build up his comfort and confidence first. Ask for more later.

EM-POWER-ment will come more quickly when you demonstrate EMpathy as well as your eagerness for POWER.

Key Learning Point To Customer Service Leadership

Empowerment is essential for any growing business, and certainly for growing careers. To gain more authority, take more responsibility and show more sensitivity and customer service leadership. That’s being responsible, too.

Action Steps To Customer Service Leadership

If you are stuck in a situation where you have little leeway, finite freedom or just a dribble of discretion, use this approach to improve things s-l-o-w-l-y but surely. Customer service leadership can prevail.


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Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “Uplifting Service” book and founder of Uplifting Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit

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