Time and Task Management is truly, officially completed! I’m sure you’re disappointed, but no worries, I’m continuing to learn and will probably soon have to rewrite the series for you to enjoy all over again. I should write a song or a poem about how much learning goes on in my life. But maybe that would show how gullible and far I have to go to learn. Hmm….
Today’s blog was inspired by two different scenarios. The first was rather simple – I was looking for a blog inspiration, and noticed that RevBuilders only had a few blogs categorized under “Customer Service.” Also, it was suggested to me by the team over here.
The second reason was that I wanted to be honest about a recent situation which came up with a customer. RevBuilders, in the process of growing, is trying to set ourselves into more and more processes and procedures. In the midst of this “process growth,” we (myself) took a certain procedural step that was rather negative towards a customer about a project. Basically, we had to tell someone no based on our processes, and we did exactly that. They responded with a little anger, but mostly disappointment and hurt: As if we had used our rule against them to run them into a corner. Mostly, this customer expressed confusion. They had wanted this one project done, and it hadn’t even been completed yet, and here I was telling them no, we were done for the moment, and we had to wait. Why?
I was shocked, as I felt like we had been generous, and had even been pushing my procedures to make more happen for their request than was technically supposed to happen. I felt as if my efforts had been slighted, diminished, and practically counted as worthless. Did the work we had already completed up to this point on the project mean nothing to them?
Scot quickly contacted this customer to set up a meeting, to which the customer (graciously) agreed to attend. And then we talked with our customer. We spoke at length about this particular issue, and then went on to discuss other matters once we realized what the issue was. After the customer left, I went back and reviewed our past conversations prior to this meeting (since it was mostly through email), because a couple of points had come up in the discussion.
So, what were the biggest culprits of this matter? The customer and I had assumed two very different expectations of this particular project, and we had both communicated very little (and infrequently). Additionally, I had communicated a lack of care about my customer when the time had come to “say no.” Read on if you want more insight into my thoughts on these two aspects.
You Think Everyone Knows Your Mind;
Or, You Think You Know Everyone Else’s Minds;
Or, You Think That Everyone Thinks Exactly the Same.
Our communication had broken down somewhere along the way. This customer was thinking one thing, and I was thinking another. The customer assumed one thing, I assumed another. The customer was busy, and so was I. I didn’t ask any questions, and the customer sent me no further instructions than a couple of sentences. I sent some questions later on that the customer never responded to, and then when things got really busy I forgot about the questions (they were more clarifying items on what I was doing), and I kept going because I figured this project needed done rather than wait on the questions to be answered. Communication just didn’t happen, and it came back to bite us both.
Point the finger of blame at me or point it at the customer, but the point is that communication broke down, and we both wound up upset. The customer was upset because what they wanted done wasn’t even done yet (and they had thought it had been done a long time ago), and I was upset because all of our hard work apparently didn’t matter. It was frustrating and distressing all around! I am thankful that this customer was willing to work it out with us, and didn’t simply give us the cold shoulder and walk out.
Assumption is the enemy of communication. A lack of communication – the act of assuming – is a direct result of supposing that people think just like you. Every single time something goes awry, it is almost always because of a communication issue, and it is because we (I) assumed something. Do not assume! (I point my finger at myself as I say this.) Do not assume anything!
Are You on Your Client’s Side, or Your Business’ Side?
How About Both. And Communicate That to Your Customer
On this same note, I also learned that I shouldn’t have sided against the client like I did, in how I communicated my “no” to my customer.
Those of you who know me as a friend (or even family) know I would never intentionally be mean or condescending in my communication, or even attempt to come off like that. However, I definitely took a stance of standing behind the rule, not standing on my client’s side.
What I mean by this is that, looking back, when it came time to say “no,” I should have instead taken the approach of not flat-out telling my customer “We’re finished,” but trying to find a way to work through the project. I should have come to my customer and said, “Look, our process dictates that we say no. However, is there any way we can work around that, so we can get this project done?” Ignoring the complete lack of communication on the project side, there was also a lack of communicating with the customer to show them that I had their best interests in mind. I chose to side so utterly with the business’ side that my customer probably felt like I was shutting them down. Which, I never meant to do. I should have taken both sides, and kept the interest of RevBuilders and the interest of the customer in mind, and navigated the waters between both to find satisfaction for both parties. That’s true, good business at its best, right?
Some companies may occasionally have the dreaded customer that tries to steal every ounce of energy out of them, and yes, they may have to cut off those leeches at some point with a flat, unwavering “no.” But this was a customer that is very dear to our business, and they were sincerely feeling neglected when I gave them a procedural “no.” This is a keeper customer, lost in a lack of clear, concise, and (more) constant communication.
As you can see, I learned a lot in the last few weeks, though definitely not in a manner I wanted to. Hoping my next few teaching experiences will be more positive!