FEATURED | Business

Sometimes a Bit of Pain Is a Good Thing

The bloody-nose on a schoolyard is a good example. My father taught me early-on that, if a fight comes to you, hit your opponent squarely in the nose. He’ll no doubt beat the hell out of you, but after that the bullies will leave you alone. I’ve not had much occasion to use that advice in the decades since, but the fact that I remember it is proof enough—a life-lesson learned.

So how does that apply to the business world?

It doesn’t.

What does apply is the lesson that there is always another way. Perhaps too often, we find ourselves timid about upsetting apple carts and rocking the boat when the boat needs to be rocked, in a business world that comes at you at warp-speed.

I have a story for you. It’s an old story from an old business situation, but there’s a note penciled in the margin of my career. Like many of you, I would take a couple weeks off to ski or travel, and those I left behind always wanted to know how to reach me should an emergency occur.

You can’t,” I would reply. “I’m going away to rest my mind, and there’s precious little rest in a mind that’s on-call. If something comes up, I trust you to handle it and, if that’s not possible, calm the problem with the news that I will shortly return.”

Calm the problem. I love that idea and it has served me well

Problems come in all sizes and circumstances, yet, like impending heart attacks, it’s usually good advice to elevate your feet while waiting for the ambulance. There’s not much that won’t wait for a little deep thought, as long as the problem realizes it’s in your frontal cortex.

Perhaps a good client got billed improperly and he’s off-the-wall angry. “I’m looking into it, Charlie, to see what went wrong. Ignore it for the time being and I’ll get back to you. You know we value your account beyond the few lunches we share.” You let him know his complaint went clear to the top, that you’re personally working on a solution and he’s a client valued above of the rest (whether that’s true or not). Meanwhile, his temperature is coming down.

Now get to work

A ‘pain-point’ has exposed itself and your company will be the better for it. It’s not likely Charlie is the only unhappy client, simply the only one who let you know. What a gifted opportunity to look all the way through your invoicing processes from the other side, as a client. How would you like your company to be billed? Depending upon a whole lot of circumstances, you might end up with your billing department calling to find out and possibly custom tailoring the process differently for each client.

What I’m getting at is that those things are now quite easily possible with custom software. And Charlie’s rant is a wake-up call to look through all aspects of your business to make it more user friendly.

Then get the word out

Each tweak is an opportunity to touch base with your clients and let them understand the benefits of working with you that your competitors may ignore. A good place to start is with the secretaries…they know everything there is to know about client dissatisfaction.

Remember this about clients—the one you have is worth twice as much as the one you hope to land. Treat them with this in mind…