The Coach's Corner

Archive for November, 2013

That’s good business. Or is it?

November 25th, 2013 // Tom Doescher //

Our Internet service is directly billed to our credit card, and we earn points that enable us to go skiing. A few months ago, the charge to our credit card unexpectedly increased 50 percent — so we contacted the service provider. After a lengthy, awkward conversation, the customer service rep actually reduced our monthly fee by 15 percent from what we paid the prior year.

We were sharing this story with some business colleagues and we told them that what really upset us was the fact that we knew many people, who would just accept the charge, and not ask questions or jump through the required hoops to get the charge adjusted. At the end of the conversation, our colleagues stated that what our service provider had done was, in their estimation, “good business.” Indeed, if maximizing profit in the short run is your business goal, then this sneaky tactic is a fantastic idea. But those of us who are in business for the long run believe it is a horrible practice.

We checked our service provider’s website, and they clearly profess that their customers come first. Take a minute to consider this: Do your business practices really put the customer first? In “I’m Sorry”, we wrote about the idea of integrity. If that’s not a trait you’re willing to vigorously pursue, please don’t promise that the customer is No. 1, and then turn around and behave like our Internet provider. In our opinion, it would be better to remain silent on the subject.

I’m sorry

November 11th, 2013 // Tom Doescher //

Why are those words so hard to say? We’re currently reading a great book, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, by Kerry Patterson and several other authors. It’s a book we would recommend to almost anyone because it will help you in business, at home, or in any relationship. We will probably comment on it more in another blog, but today we wanted to highlight one of the authors’ recommendations. They suggest that when you realize you’ve made a mistake, it’s important to start with an “apology,” which they define as a statement that sincerely expresses your sorrow for your role in causing difficulty for others. Many of us have received what we called “qualified apologies,” and maybe we’ve even delivered a few — something along the lines of, “I am sorry you felt that way about me embarrassing you in front of your friends.”

The other day we had an episode at our auto dealership. We’ve done business with them for a long time, and we’ve always received great service and had positive experiences. We were leasing a new vehicle, and we noticed a slight problem in the transaction. When we brought the problem to their attention, the finance manager took total responsibility and offered an unqualified apology for his oversight. He also solved the problem immediately.

Do you and your team take total responsibility for customer/client problems, or do you place blame elsewhere?

In the story above, the dealership made a mistake — but the way they handled it has made us even bigger fans of their establishment. We all make mistakes; it’s how we handle them that separate the great from the average.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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