You never know when a valuable business lesson will appear and slap you in the head. The other day, I had it happen to me. Let me lay out the steps (no more than 15) and then I will expound a bit. I swear, you can’t make this stuff up.
I had a problem with my Blackberry. I’ll call the company Verizon, because…well that’s the name on the sign. And, I decided to take it back to the store to get my issue resolved!
- My Blackberry stopped receiving Internet tethering service.
- I had a great plan which included tethering.
- I arrived at the local Verizon Store expecting to grab a number, sit, and wait
- I was the only one in the store. Cool!
- The young man who handled my “complaint” was as good as they get.
- He explained I had “lost” my great deal.
- I was miffed, but not outwardly upset. I accepted my plight.
- He sold me an updated plan.
- I left mentioning that I might be back if not totally satisfied.
- He implied that he would expect nothing less.
- I left pleased with the service I had received only to find out five days later that I had never actually lost my “great plan.”
- I sent a gentle email “warning” that I was about to return to rescind the entire previous transaction. I think I also might have mentioned that if I was hit with a “restocking” charge, that I might have to show a few of my Tae Kwon-Do moves.
- He knew I was coming back. I came back. I was greeted with, “How can I help you.” It would have been warmer if he had salted my name into the phrase at some point.
- Very business like, he reversed the transaction with not much personality.
- I left feeling that I had over stayed my welcome in this store.
What I did not mention was that upon my return, I had a signed copy of my book for the young man as a sign of sincere appreciation for the way he handled my account initially. I still gave him the book, but was mildly disappointed with my second experience. Life goes on. I will get over it.
Two days later I received a phone call from the Verizon salesman. “Mike, I have started reading your book, and I was wondering if you had time to meet with me.” Wow. I guess some people still do read books.
I told him I would be passing through town the following week, and that perhaps we could meet for a cup of coffee. He sounded grateful. And that is the end of the story … so far.
So, what’s the message? Stuff happens! You, as the professional, must deal with “stuff” both good and bad. That’s your job. It’s bad form to wear your feelings on your face depending on the current situation. In my case, the guy used the appropriate words, but his body language did not match. I left feeling unloved and misunderstood, although I had accomplished my task.
Your job is to make certain that you make those you care about feel welcome, comfortable, cared for and always, always, always feeling good about a return visit. Always. That is what separates the pros from the wannabes.
But there’s more. This young man was “on” when he smelled a commission. He was “off” when he realized that this commission was no longer in his immediate future. But then, when he saw there might be something else in it for him, he returned with a plea for help. Don’t be an on-again/off-again professional. Consistency is what wins ballgames.
The lesson here has a number of aspects. “What goes around comes around” is one I suppose. But, a more pertinent message might sound like the old saw, “Don’t burn your bridges behind you.” I had initially pegged this young man as a winner. He soon reversed my decision. Let’s see what happens over a cup of java.
I will meet with the man. I will help him if I can. And if I feel like it, I will give him a thousand-dollar piece of advice for free. I will remind him how important it is to bring your “A” game to work each and every day. How important it is to remain consistent. How important it is to understand that work today is not a sprint—it’s a marathon. What goes up will soon come down. What goes down will soon be coming up. And never upset anybody who buys ink by the barrel. (Think about this last one.
My phone is back in business doing what I expect it to do, and I am still a Verizon customer.