In last week’s article I discussed ‘Above The Line, Below The Line’ or ‘Victor over Victim’ as one of the most powerful models in my toolbox.
My intention when teaching and leading the conversation is to create a listening of Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility, simple as that.
When you read through last week’s article Above the Line, Below the Line, and think about who you and your team are being? Victors or Victims! What can you take responsibility for? What you are accountable for? and How you take ownership? Apart from opening new pathways to being responsible for your communication with customers, it also creates the opportunity to update your operating standards to align with what you can be responsible for, which fits inside of the 85/15 principle.
85% of any outcome’s achieved in the first 15%
Your planning, preparation and set up of your standards becomes even more important than your actual customer service. There is always going to be variation to manage in any situation, however if you have utilised the first 15% to ensure consistent actions are taken to fulfil on outcomes – managing any variation will automatically become part of your system – available to you and your team to follow when required and will ensure the goodwill and loyalty of your customers is maintained.
It is always important to communicate what you know and by doing so remove the mistake we often make of over promising and under delivering.
For example, late last year I wrote about the frustrating experience I had as a customer when purchasing a lounge from a well-known high end Australian furniture retailer. The lounge suit was supposed to be delivered last November. It was finally delivered last week after some negotiation.
I received a telephone message telling me the lounge would be delivered earlier this month unfortunately, on the day they wanted to deliver it we were actually away so, I rang them and asked if they could schedule delivery for another time.
In response they sent me another text message, but I actually didn’t read the bottom of the message requesting confirmation. Due to the fact I hadn’t confirmed I then I got a letter threatening that if they had not received a response in 21 days, they were going to cancel my order and I’d lose my deposit.
Like, what the hell! I’ve been waiting since November for the lounge suite. Apart from not being available on one proposed delivery date, I am not responsible for all of the delays that have taken place up to this point.
My point is they over promised and under delivered! And in the end, made it about me like I am the bad guy in this situation.
They already knew they were dealing with massive delays from their suppliers. It’s no different to the 60,000 or so cars sitting offshore in Australian waters at the moment waiting to dock.
In this instance, my issue is that they are not giving a realistic, honest turn-around timeline at the time of purchase, which results in really disgruntled customers like me, because of the way they’ve handled this transaction. The lounge suite is wonderful, and we love it but the experience has certainly left a bad taste in my mouth. I have no intention of ever doing business with this company again.
If they had said, “I’d love to tell you your lounge suit will be delivered in November. We will do our best but we’re having some supply issues. What I can promise you is that we will keep you up to date with any developments like – when it is on the ship, when gets to Australia, and when it arrives with us. How does that sound?” I would have understood, and we would have experienced some freedom to choose to go ahead with the purchase or not.
Whereas the reality is that between the promised date and final delivery date, we received five emails telling us that they could not meet the promised delivery date and proposing a new date. And, not one of these emails included an apology.
The lack of Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility taken by this company was very disheartening. At the very least, they could have taken the time to stand in the customers shoes and take a more positive approach like, “we know we have let you down however due to circumstances with our supplier we are unable to deliver your lounge suit on our promised date. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused at your end….”
Maybe had I received a well written email taking full responsibility, I may have been fine with the change in date in the first instance, however when you get another one and another one and another one …. all written exactly the same (like a copy and paste) it is extremely annoying, and we certainly did not feel valued by this particular company especially, later on in this transaction when they threatened to punish me.
Why would I do business with this company again?
With my clients, I always talk about Standing In The Shoes Of The Customer. It is important to understand what it’s like to be there and take actions from this place that represent genuine feeling.
The customer’s experience is never just about the product!
Tell me what you can be responsible for!
It comes back to your planning, preparation and set up of your customer service standards to ensure you operate ‘Above the Line’. The 85/15 principle and Above the Line, Below the Line go hand-in-hand, there is not much point putting your time and energy into one without following through with the other.
Are you managing your customers’ expectations?
Are you standing in your customer’s shoes?
Are you doing your best by your customers’?
I hear often that some people are too scared to tell their customers the truth, because they may risk the sale. This is short-term-thinking at its best. The problem with this way of thinking and doing business is, you may in fact get the sale however you risk the cost to your business in the future.
It’s not about just a one off sale, you want this customer to be wanting to do business with you again in the future.
It’s a bit like a real estate company who gets the sale and then offer poor customer service thereafter – even though they might sell the home, the customer never wants to use that company again, because they over promised and under delivered.
We must always look at the long-term game.
If you would like to have a chat with me about the ‘The Long Term Game‘ contact me I look forward to hearing from you.
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