October 8, 2016

Ninety-Five Percent

A few weeks ago, I took my mom out for a birthday dinner. It was nice to take her out for a nice meal and catch up. We arrived, they seated us immediately, and the friendly server came over to take our drink order and tell us about the specials. We pursued the menu and ordered our meal.

Our food arrived and that’s when the evening went downhill. Mine was cold; mom’s was overdone; it was an epic fail. I called our server over and told her that our meals weren’t good and she immediately offered a refund and a free replacement meal for each of us. But we decided to skip the whole thing and I took mom home with the promise of a rain check at a different restaurant.

Order Up

Our dinner was a disaster but the restaurant handled it well. They offered to remove the original order from my bill and give us a free dinner right then and there. It was our choice to leave and we may never return. But the point is they tried to fix it right away. Their apologies were sincere; no one got flustered; they handled it well.

That’s the 95%. That’s the majority of what your company is and it has nothing to do with what you do or sell. It’s your people, your customer service, your ability to handle conflict, your capacity to deal with change and potential conflict.

They Did It Right

I may try this restaurant again, but that’s not the point. The real take away was how they dealt with it and treated us with care and respect. We didn’t make a fuss, we didn’t storm out, and we did demand to see the manager or yell and scream. We simply decided our meals weren’t good and we didn’t want to order anything else. But they did try and make it right.

Conflict and communication breakdown happens. It’s what we do about it that really matters. You will mess up with customer and clients, so will I. You will make mistakes, so will I. It’s called being human. But it’s how we deal with it in the heat of any moment that counts most. It’s that connective tissue within your company and relationships with those who engage with your services or buy your products that is critical. And it’s how we take care of things when things don't go well.

That’s the 95% which will separate you from everyone else.

October 4, 2016

Hindsight is Easy

The red element on the stove means it’s hot. The amber light means slow down. The object 100 yards ahead of our car may be danger. These are things we have learned are to be avoided. Is it critical to look back and sift through evidence, examine results, and take to the present the lessons we learned? In part, yes. But beating ourselves up over the past in the comfort of now is dangerous.

Celebrating what worked is important. Letting go of those lessons to make room to do it better this time is the point, but what if this time is slightly different or we don't see it coming until after it happens?

Warning Signs

You may have learned the hard way as a kid not to touch the stove element again. Perhaps it was your experience with a punctured tire at 2am in the thunderstorm that ensured you would swerve around foreign objects on the road again. Learning from the past is important; embracing the lessons is critical.

We may not see the next stove element, road object, or conflict before it arrives. Perhaps the only way to manage that uncertainty is to understand we may mess up again and perfection is an impossible pursuit.

We only ever have right now.
©2016 Kneale Mann | knealemann@gmail.com | people + priority = profit
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