I have set a goal to read (or re-read) 1 business book every 2 weeks. I recently reread “Customer Mania!” by Ken Blanchard since it is the story of how YUM! Brands—owners of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s and A&W Restaurants in the US—is building a Customer-Focused company.

I was rewarded by having a couple concepts refreshed in my own mind; one was empowering employees.

In this book Ken tells the story of how Ritz-Carlton gives every front-line employee a $2000 discretionary fund to solve a customer service issue—without manager approval.

David Novak, CEO for YUM Brands! liked this idea so much he implemented a similar policy, except the value was $10.

My Perspective: Although the values are quite different, they are actually very similar. Both amounts are significant in the context of the products available at the company.

In both cases the employees feel respected and empowered. They have the ability to address customer issues immediately and appropriately based on their first-hand knowledge of the issue.

This discretionary fund becomes a competitive advantage because the person closest to customer—and the problem—feel they can make decisions and solve problems. This in turn develops an ownership attitude and customer service that creates fans!