Thursday, March 21, 2013

the customer's always right, right?

Lately I've been thinking about the power of feedback.  About how perception is reality, and how just a tiny bit of bad publicity can wreck a reputation.

First - feedback. Not the direct ''I think this of your product/service'' kind of feedback, but more the ''I heard this about that business'' kind of feedback.   In my experience few businesses actively ask their clients for feedback (unless they are looking for warm fuzzy quotes to go on their website).  And when they do receive it, usually unsolicited, and more often than not at the negative end of the spectrum, they can easily come up with a counter argument for everything said - of course the customer was unhappy, the brief wasn't clear. Of course we went over budget, the scope changed.  Of course we were unable to complete on time, there was extra unallowed for work involved.  Of course she left the shop unhappy, she was miserable when she came in and was probably already having a bad day.    Problem is, whatever the reason for a customers misery - as the provider of a product or service, you will always be considered the one accountable for the experience.

Perception is reality - sure is.  The customer that THINKS you are a slow responder will be very difficult to convince otherwise.  The customer that FEELS you understand their business will remain loyal even if in fact you don't particularly value them as a client when the lights are off.  The person that sees you in a messy office, or cruddy old car, will always have a certain view of you, no matter how efficient or innovative you actually are.

And as for bad publicity...well actually whether a rumour is true or not, once something bad is said about you, your business is going to have a huge job convincing anyone to the contrary.  One barely bad experience from one small customer is just as damaging as making a huge stuff up on your most important client.  Everyone makes mistakes, and its important to own up to them, but it is imperative to do the very best to maintain the absolute best reputation you can for your business.  Acknowledge mistakes, fix them immediately (even if they are not actually your fault), apologise gracefully, and do better, much better, next time.

The customer is always right, right?

Friday, March 15, 2013

helpless and hopeless

I'm watching two people who are close to me go through some tough stuff.  They care for each other deeply and have also been through plenty of other own crises in the past few years, but now it's about the redefinition of their own relationship.  Things are messy and emotional.  I can see both sides of the story.  I can relate to both, agree with both, and disagree with both.

But I can't really get involved. It's not my place to do any more than be a listening ear.  And its hard, oh it's hard.  I want to be sympathetic, I want to offer thoughts and opinion.  I want to fix this.  But I can't.

I guess it's partly selfish - I have this ridiculous need to see everyone living happy ever after.  I have an abhorrance of conflict (sometimes to my detriment it must be said). I want to believe in an ideal world where everything is resolvable and we can all accept each others views.  Yes I know it's unrealistic.  Yes I know life is messy and unpredictable (oh how I know that!), yes I know that sometimes things actually AREN'T fixable - the only thing to lessen pain is time.

The crazy thing is it's not really even any of my business. I'm an onlooker. I have no right to an opinion other than as friend or confidante.  It's a good lesson for me.  Listen, learn, care - but let others do what is right for them.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

decisions decisions

Today I am feeling a little calmer than I did yesterday.  Yesterday I felt a little crazier than the day before.
Last week I didn't know which direction I was looking in.

I've got a lot going on you see, and am feeling like there's some major life decisions looming - and to be honest I'm nervous about facing them.  Thanks to the relative insecurity of my (otherwise terrific) job, I am seriously considering seeking new employment.  One child is fast approaching a potential school change as she is in Year 6.  The ridiculous size of my mortgage is leaving me feeling financially strapped.  I just had a mountain of blood tests and if the Doctors supposition turns out to be correct there's going to be some major lifestyle changes happening right here.  My car is making all kinds of scary noises and asking (more and more vociferously) to be be retired to trade-in heaven.

Life is good, don't get me wrong, but like most people, it seems that sometimes all the ''stuff'' happens at once and appears in an insurmountable pile that demands attention, right now.

I've often used the expression ''sometimes not making a decision is the right decision''.  That's worked out OK for me up until now, but I'm getting closer and closer to the point of ultimatum.  My right brain tendencies suggest that I'll make a list of pros and cons, get some specialist advice, be rational.  The usually stifled left brain arrangement means I'll most likely ignore my gut instincts.  Ahhh decisions, why are you so difficult to communicate with!?!?

How do you make decisions?  Once made do you stick with them or do you tend to prevaricate until there's no time left?