So yesterday was one of those days….
You know the type; all day you spin and in the end you’re dizzy but not much else.
The day concluded around 7:30pm as we sat down for dinner and before taking one bite of his meal my partner, Dan, exclaims: “all day you work your ass off and rather than get ahead you just fall farther behind…I think I’m done, I’m not sure I can do this anymore….”
Okay it wasn’t the best day, we had a few setbacks, mistakes were made that will end up costing money but I was kind of surprised by his admission; then I got a little angry, here’s why….
It’s Never As Bad As You Think It Is
Seriously, I’m not an eternal optimist. I don’t walk around telling people to smile. Usually folks tell me I ought to be smiling!
What I am is forward-thinking and when I hear someone say they are done, they feel like throwing in the towel, I get hyper-sensitive.
The world is a challenge, life is a challenge and add to that work challenges and family challenges it can feel overwhelming at times. But it’s just a feeling. Sure I was pretty upset with some of the issues that had come up during the day and it would be wrong to assume that anyone can shut off the emotional curb-feelers but my emotional reactions are just that…reactions.
Once you get the emotion out in the open the next steps are to regroup, consider, be grateful and work on the solution. The absolute worst thing you can do is stew on it. This goes back to one of my personal philosophies, ‘Shoulda Coulda Woulda’.
Should we have done a few things differently during the day? YES. Could we have prevented some of what happened during the day? YES. Do we wish we would have done things another way? YES.
And recognizing that is good but dwelling on it is very, very bad. You can’t go back. You can only go forward.
When the crap hits the fan talking about it incessantly will certainly help one thing…keeping your emotions high and in control of your actions.
Taking steps to become forward thinking can not only solve your challenges, it can help you feel better faster.
So let’s go over the next steps I’ve outlined and we’ll work through them using a hypothetical example. For the example let’s say that we were scheduled to repair a computer, the part for the repair work came in but no one opened the box. The customer arrived as scheduled to drop off her computer. We promised it would be ready by 3:pm. The computer sat on the counter until Noon when someone finally began work on it. They opened the delivered parts box only to discover that what was in the box was the wrong part. The vendor had sent the wrong thing. Now we have a job that won’t get done on time, let alone done that day and we are going to have a really unhappy customer.
This is the first step. The time when you step back and look at the events or circumstances. This is a quick step. You simply want to say here’s what went wrong. You can voice your feelings over it but keep it simple. For example: “We screwed up by not checking in the shipment, now we’re gonna have a pissed off customer.”
Next, we’ve already stated what went wrong, we know we can’t go back so let’s look at the options. It would be bad to overlook the obvious…the need to implement a process so that all inventory is checked and confirmed instead of assuming. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. And sadly it’s happened more than once.
Then, let’s consider the fact that it could be worse. Seriously. Really look at the situation and consider the worst case. I like to spend just a minute to remember that most of the time things could have been far worse. At this point we still have an unhappy situation but there’s no reason to lose a customer over it.
Stopping to recognize that it’s not as bad as it could be helps to diffuse some of the negative emotional energy.
Ah yes, my favorite one. Hey, at least we have a customer right? Right! Time to take a second to appreciate what you do have, what is working and that mistakes happen. This is a critical step; especially if you feel like throwing in the towel.
Usually one mistake does not create irreversible circumstances. Be grateful. Look around at what is good, you’ll get past the bad emotions so much faster and begin to look forward to the last step.
Here is the most important step. Fix it. We can’t go back and reverse what has happened so why not spend some of that emotional energy on finding the best solution you can. How can you turn the situation around? How can you make it work out in your favor?
You might consider offering an extra service for the delay or perhaps a discount. The worst phone call to a customer is the one where you have to tell them things aren’t going like they were supposed to. Most of the time, if you are forthright and honest, customers will understand. We’ve all been in situations where things don’t go as planned.
Do you have to offer something? Nope. But to offer something in return for the error just gives you an opportunity to be a superhero. And in today’s economic climate when more and more businesses are pulling back from doing extra, you will definitely stand out.
In the end…
So I basically walked Dan through the steps. Reminded him that yes, our mistake would cost some money but not our reputation. That the issue could have been far worse. That we need to find a way to prevent it from happening again, and that we should be grateful every single day because we’ve got such awesome customers and that the whole thing will likely not affect them at all.
The point is to keep looking forward and not back. Things happen, sometimes within our control and sometimes not. The most successful business folks know that solving problems quickly and moving on will reap the biggest rewards.