FOMU: The Fear of Messing Up
You have most likely heard people use the expression FOMO, an acronym for Fear of Missing Out. People have a hard time deciding what to do or where to go and worry about missing out on a fun experience, a business opportunity, and more.
Recently, I interviewed Dominic Constandi for Amazing Business Radio. We talked about different customer service and experience topics, and he casually mentioned FOMU. I knew what FOMO meant but wasn't sure about FOMU, which, as it turns out, stands for Fear of Messing Up. Specifically, he talked about how the stakes are higher than ever in business. Faced with the pandemic, supply chain issues, employment problems, and a challenging economy, companies have had to tighten up, watch every penny and become cautious almost to the point of being so scared they struggle to make a decision for fear of making a mistake they can't afford to make. In short, the pressure is higher than normal and combined with fear, it leads to FOMU.
I want to take the idea of FOMU to the customer service world.
A little FOMU is good. It means you care. If you are a conscientious person, you don't want to make a mistake, share the wrong information, create unnecessary friction or do anything that creates a confrontation. You want to do things right—without messing up.
That said, there is sometimes a bad reason for FOMU. It happens when an employee is so afraid of what the boss might think and that they might get fired or yelled at. They become almost paralyzed with fear and won't push themselves or step out of their comfort zone. That often means the customer won't get the experience they could or should have.
While it may not be possible to eliminate FOMU altogether, a culture that empowers employees to make good decisions is what you want. Employees must have the confidence to overcome FOMU, and this comes from proper training and praise. When employees do it right, compliment them. That positive reaction from a boss begets more of the same behaviors.
It's impossible to deliver a perfect experience every time, and it's crucial that every employee knows this and is given permission to mess up, provided they exhibit the right effort and attitude toward the customer and the situation. Use these "mess-ups" as coaching opportunities. When they happen, if appropriately managed, it can give the employee more confidence than if the mess-up hadn't happened at all.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times, bestselling business author. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
This article was republished with permission and originally appeared at Shep Hyken.