How a Seattle Answering Service “Zapped the Gaps” and Turned Around Office Productivity: A Case Study

When service conversation rises, the premise of customers being always right is one of the most debatable. Maybe the reality of business, which fluctuates and evolves, makes us believe that is the absolute truth. But, often companies forget to value the first and most important “asset” – the employees. For businesses to offer good service and have their customers satisfied, employees (internal clients) need to be motivated, get the right training and coaching, and receive feedback.


In the book Zap the Gaps! Target Higher Performance and Achieve It!, by Ken Blanchard, Dana Robinson, and Jim Robinson, the topic discussion is to the point. The main characters in the story, Bill and Sarah, failed to do a thorough GAPS analysis which brought up serious consequences to the overall company performance afterward.

What Does GAPS Stand for?

  • G – Go for the “Shoulds”

What should we do to fix the problem? How to accomplish our goals? Should we follow the same pattern or change our strategies?

  • A – Analyze the “Is”

What is the current situation? What types of problems are we facing now?

  • P – Pin Down the Causes

What is causing our issues? Is it lack of proper management? Is it operational? Is it lack of communication? How about training and support?

  • S – Select the Right Solutions

What should we change? Time to implement the best strategy.

Bill and Sarah recognized that the low productivity was an issue in their customer service department but didn’t dig deep into the root of the problem. Later on, they realized the real matter lied deep beneath the organization surface. There had been secondary issues that slipped through the cracks and likewise the company often overlooked – such as communication problems, lack of coaching, deficient IT infrastructure, and unclear definition of expectations.

Hence, after the department assessed the problem and followed the GAPS strategy, the group worked on a series of actions. Once they implemented the solutions, productivity took a turn for the better, and the office experienced an overall improvement.

The Case of the Answering Service in Seattle

With the Answering Service Care, the office in Seattle was not far from the book’s reality. The company purchased the branch from a former small Answering Service business five years ago. When the Answering Service Care took over the leadership for that property, its business operations were in shambles and employee’s performance lousy.

At first, the current team hesitated to change. The staff held onto the old habits from the earlier corporate culture and didn’t want to let go. They feared the future – an uncertainty with the new procedures into place. It took time for them to realize that the scenario had changed. Finally, they saw no option other than shifting their behavior to keep up with the market demands and survive.

Our Quality Assurance Director, Terrie, and two managers went on a mission to train the team. They helped to implement policies and procedures for the new branch. And what happened at that point was an entire corporate culture revamp.

While putting themselves in the apprentice’s shoes, and listening to them, the management team pointed out each one strength and weaknesses. The trio of managers empathized with the struggles, fears, and inside anomalies that hindered the staff performance. They recognized that those individuals just wanted to be appreciated and part of a team. As a result, they gave rewards, created “Spirit day”, and celebrated the new staff victory in each time they made strides.

After this overhaul, the transformation was so drastic that now the Seattle office is part of the number one region in performance development for the Answering Service Care.

In the end, the message is loud and clear. External and internal factors have a significant impact on how a company performs and how successful it can be if compared to its competition. Productivity and human performance are two crucial business aspects and should not be taken for granted. In such volatile times, where a competitive edge is imperative to steer business and get ahead of the game, companies must pay attention to their internal client: their employees.

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