Mediocrity Has Become the Norm

Publish Date : 2021-01-25 11:53:34

Mediocrity Has Become the Norm

It's all around us. Everywhere we turn we run into it. People in "responsible" positions don't know what they're doing. As a result we get marginal information, poor advice, haphazard direction... and most of us tolerate it... because most of us are just as guilty as "the inmates who are running the asylum".

Walk into a clothing store... you're swarmed by sales clerks asking if you're being helped... and when you ask for help they don't know what to tell you... other than "that looks great on you"... even if the garment is two sizes too small... Ask those same people to measure you for a hem and they have to go to their Manager... because they were never trained to measure hems.

The Manager is just as uninformed... think about a Manager working with untrained people... allowing such stupidity to continue by not initiating any training... falling back on the excuse "I didn't get any instructions on training". Then look to the Regional Manager who either doesn't know or doesn't care that the "front line troops" don't know anything about servicing a customer.

Not so in the "Mom & Pop" stores... where the owner (or some family member) is there. They appreciate the customer and do whatever they can to satisfy and keep that customer... but in chain stores... in mall stores... it's "a whole 'nother smoke".

It's reached a point, when it comes to the chain stores, where people who know what Customer Relationship Management (CRM, a "buzzword" in today's world of retailing) can make a darn good living by teaching retail clerks that servicing a customer is the way it's supposed to be.

Years ago (and in today's Mom & Pop stores) retailers knew their customers. When a certain item came in they called those customers who might want such an item and let them know it was available... and even asked if the customer would like to have the item set aside for inspection and possible purchase.

Imagine having to teach someone that "the customer is always right". Sounds pretty stupid to me, but as stupid as it may seem, that's exactly what's being taught... Because the retail clerk never experienced such service in their role as a consumer.

Most retail clerks never got any service in chain stores and as a result don't give any service. They never experienced it and as a result don't know what it is.

It goes further... and the fact is, in many instances, it is intentional...

Take the average stock broker, for example... This is a highly regulated industry loaded with "land mines" where the company and the broker can be (and often are) sued for losing clients money. The prospective broker studies hard to pass government exams... the studying is mostly about the law and how to adhere to it... and...

When they pass, when they are licensed and can legally give advice to initiate investment, their Managers give them (again, not everybody, but for the most part, most) specific stocks to present to the clients. And the investment philosophy drummed into the broker by the firm is "buy and hold" which is exactly what the broker(s) drum into the mind(s) of the client...

Buy and hold... it's a pretty safe investment strategy when you're trying to avoid law suits... and that's exactly what the firms are trying to do. But in today's market, you'll need a lot of time and a lot of money to make buy and hold work.

If stock brokers knew how to trade, they'd be traders, not brokers... trading is more lucrative... show me a broker who is not money driven and I'll show you an exception to the rule...

But trading carries with it accountability... and the last thing a broker or a firm wants is to be accountable for their trading... trading stimulates law suits... trading is then avoided.

Here's a true example...

When I was in college (many years ago) I started reading about stock trading and after practicing for a while got enough confidence to actually sell my car and use the money to trade. My trades worked and in a few months I had traded an account that started with $250 up to a net value of $1,700.

My broker (a trainee at the time) asked me what I was doing and I explained the system I was using. He laughed at me and suggested I take the money and go to the race track... because I'd have more fun and could get a great meal at the same time.

Embarrassed, I asked what he would suggest... He recommended a company that made a light bulb that emitted artificial light similar to the rays of the sun. He explained that studies had been done showing an improvement in production among workers in locations using this lighting. Factories and offices were seeing increased production... with increased production came lower costs... evolving into increased earnings... resulting in higher stock prices.

I bought 100 shares and watched... After 3 months there was no price change. Since my previous experience was profiting through trading, I was getting antsy.

I sat down with the broker and asked him to sell my stock... the end of the term was coming and I was going to go back home for summer break... His response was to just sit tight... to hold. But the money I had earned (before getting into the stock he recommended) allowed me to buy a much newer, fancier convertible. So overall I was satisfied with my short but highly profitable experience in the market... but reluctant to continue, based on his "sage advice".

Three years later I was married. We were saving money for a down payment on a home. One of my wife's relatives passed away leaving her some preferred stock, paying interest levels that were dwarfed by bank rates at that time.

While we lived in a different city, the previous brokerage had an office around the corner from my office. I walked in with the stock certificate and was introduced to another very hospitable trainee. Explaining I wanted to sell my stock she was very efficient telling me a check would be issued in three days... and then asked what I planned to do with the money.

I was open to suggestions... she started telling me a story about a light bulb manufacturer with a bulb emitting artificial light similar to the rays of the sun... pointing to a study showing an improvement in production in factories and offices where the light was being used.

The stock was the same price I sold it for three years earlier. I asked who brought the company public... turns out that hers was one of brokerages... I asked if, as part of the payment for bringing a company public, the firms payment included shares of stock. It did.

So here was a case of management telling their sales people to push a specific stock... because they got it at a comparatively low cost and in addition to the normal commission, they would make a mark up on the stock that came out of their own inventory...

And while the broker had no knowledge of my experience... while the broker was sincere in her suggestion... it looked to me like management intentionally told her to suggest this stock... because it looked like a good "buy and hold" candidate.

So in the case of investing in stock, for the most part the brokers do what their companies tell them to do... for reasons they sometimes don't grasp...

Further, this acceptance of mediocrity by the general public has been brewing for many years... and as time passed, we learned to tolerate more.

Look at what the financial institutions did to the world economy... Do you sincerely believe the "geniuses" who used collateralized loans to create bond like investments had no thought of what could go wrong... especially since they intentionally blended bad loans with good turning toxic waste into multibillion dollar investment products sold globally...

Why did the companies issuing ratings on these investments give the ratings they gave? It was obvious what was happening...

When Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac dumped high ranking employees who were "cooking the books" a "thorough" investigation by Barnie Frank and his crew resulted in a "no worries" report to the public...

How did a well meaning but grossly uninformed "Gentleman's C Student" with a history of alcohol abuse and business failure become a two term President?

How did a "no business experience" community organizer get elected to state then federal senate posts and then become President?

I'll tell you... the reason mediocrity has become the norm is we accept whatever we're handed... instead of insisting on service, competence and responsibility. We've allowed this to progress over a period of many years.

Want better service at retail... let management know you're not getting satisfactory treatment and walk away...

Want better government... let your elected (and appointed) officials know you won't accept mediocrity and vote them out of office... but be vigilant on who you put in... and if they don't act responsibly, throw them out too...

Want better treatment... first, give better treatment and expect those who receive it to reciprocate... and if they don't tell them why you won't do any more business with them.

Category : news

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