Ferguson CEO Story
One of our clients where we did a major P3 customer service improvement was Ferguson Enterprises. I was the only person ever to change the structure of a board meeting because I had to wait for Chip Hornsby, the CEO at that time, to fly back from a meeting.
The reason I had to wait for Chip is that I had met with the board of Ferguson previously and told them we were not going to engage in a P3 implementation until Chip had shopped their company.
Because I had shopped their company and knew they had a significant challenge with their return policy. I knew based on my expertise in the customer service field there was not a snowball’s chance we would ever create raving fans with a return policy like Ferguson had at that point.
So, with a little hutzpuh, I turned down a five million dollar contract and walked out of the boardroom and said, "No thank you. Not until you shop yourself and try to return something. If you, the CEO, can’t return something how do you think it feels to be a customer?"
They said, "That’s not the case."
I said, "I understand that’s your perception. If you could shop your organization, purchase something and then try to return it, I’ll come back to the next board meeting."
I already knew it didn’t matter who Chip was. Once he purchased something and took it out of the package Ferguson was not going to take it back. Not even for Chip Hornsby, yes of Bruce Hornsby’s fame (he was his cousin) and the CEO of Wolseley.
So, that’s why I waited for him and that’s why I was the first person to disrupt the schedule for the board meeting.
I must tell you as a side note I hadn’t worn a tie in 10 years. But to enter their headquarters a tie was required. So, twice I had to wear a tie to go back to the board meeting.
I wasn’t NOT going to see Chip if I had to put on a tie. I did it to make a point and did it the 2nd time to make a point. The point is the policy was broken and the best way to change was for Chip to experience it first hand.
So I waited.
When he landed he came directly to the meeting. I was ushered into the executive board room. There I sit in the hot seat; everyone staring at me. The floor is all mine.
I said, "Hey Chip, what did you buy?"
He said, "A showerhead."
I said, "Did you take it out of the box and try to return it?"
He said, "Yes." I started laughing. So did he.
Everyone in the boardroom got white. They had no clue what was going on. We started laughing without saying anything else.
He said, "You got the contract."
I said, "I still don’t want it."
He said, "I understand. That policy is stupid. It was eliminated before I landed. That’s why I am laughing. I couldn’t believe as CEO I couldn’t return a $90 product."
I said, "Not only is that decision going to make it easy for us to improve customer service, just that alone your employee engagement is going to go through the roof because they aren’t going to have to deal with pissed off customers all the time."
Both of these were true.
I took the $5 million contract. I ain’t dumb.
We worked with them successfully to create a web-based blended learning customer service program that transformed them financially, transformed them culturally and it transformed the customer relationships so dramatically it should be an HBR case study.
Being owned by Wolsey they also wanted to engage in the process. Wolsey gave us another $10 million project, except my partner Jeffrey insulted them from the stage and they decided not to pursue the contract and I applauded that decision.
Jim Feltman at Ferguson is a good model of an enlightened leader. At first, he was skeptical, he wanted to kick the tires and see where we had implemented P3. He wanted to see how eLearning was received. He wanted to see how the blended learning process worked and what type of results we had achieved.
If we say it we are bragging, if our customers say it is the truth. I had him talk to a couple of our raving fan customers which cracks me up. Who do you think we are going to get but a happy customer to talk to you? Incidentally, we only have happy customers so it is a matter of us picking who they talk to!
After doing that he engaged. He got us to the board. He became the executive sponsor. He became the chief obstacle remover of the company. Because of that success and our implementation he became CAO, was promoted and was the acquirer of businesses, and installed our P3 process in all the businesses they acquired.
Jim didn’t believe the process could be replicated without someone like myself or Jeffrey who was partnering with me. Nothing could be further from the truth. We proved with our training and guidance we could create self-reliance with our client partners in such a way they could replicate it without us.
Jim did that three or four times, as many of our clients have. Many clients have gone on to become large-scale change experts, productivity improvement experts, coaching in their industry of expertise themselves.
We have built expertise in almost every industry:
- every service industry.
- Red Lobster and Olive Garden Leader Behavior Analysis
- Charles Swab - Raving Fans Gap Finder
- Florida Power & Light - TQM process
- Ritz-Carlton - Situational Service Leadership
- IBM - Global Recognition
- Honeywell - Lean Engineering
- Caterpillar - Sales Competencies
- CATU - Building Block Learning
- Total personalize and industry leading solutions built on P3 philosophy.
Almost all clients have a blended solution leveraging GES proprietary layered learning providing in-language global learning in 5-10 minute bite-size chunks.
Incidentally, our P3 solution has always been virtual and contactless.
What is even more important is we are a remote, fast development company.
We can help you without ever seeing you face to face. We can help you without ever touching you. We can stay 6 feet away and make excellence occur.