Show of hands: Who finds this quote highly relevant…and slightly convicting? I had to put my hand down to continue typing this blog post, but suffice to say this thought by Ben Franklin hits the mark with me today.
My business—and probably yours, too—is all about client (or customer) service. Daily, we strive to balance being responsive to clients and honing our business models to position for growth and profitability. At what point does responsiveness become submissiveness? At what point do we acquiesce the driver’s seat of our own businesses? For anyone who’s accommodating by nature (I just raised my hand again), the balancing act is a constant challenge.
Recently, my friend Billy Smith shared a story of leadership that is a real-life example of “Drive thy business” that really inspired me. Read and learn from this wisdom…
As former owner of one of the largest and most profitable salons in the Southeast, Billy knows lots about leading people and relating to customers. Once, the husband of a frequent salon customer purchased a $500 gift card to give to his wife on their anniversary, which was a few weeks away. Before the husband had a chance to present the gift, his wife became ill with a rare condition that led her to have a severe reaction to being touched. Massages, pedicures, facials—so many of the services the gift card would be good for could no longer be of benefit to the wife.
When the husband sought a refund for the gift card, every staff member he interfaced with quoted him the strict company policy: no refunds or exchanges on gift card purchases, period. As the husband worked his way up the totem pole of the salon, he became increasingly incensed that his request was declined. Eventually, his complaints reached Billy, and by then, he was livid.
Billy, aware of the entire scenario, made the difficult phone call to the customer. He began his conversation with a clear, concise statement—that kept him in the driver’s seat of his business from the get-go. “Mike, before we begin this conversation, you need to know two things. First, the thing you’re asking for is the one thing I can not do. Secondly, before this conversation is done, we will reach a resolution that leaves you 100% satisfied yet does not compromise our policy.”
Billy then began an open discourse with the husband, and ultimately, they agreed on a way for that $500 gift card to be put to good use. Billy and his team offered to open the spa to the couple after business hours, and they provided a special meal, a massage for the husband and non-invasive services for the wife (a carefully given manicure, etc.). They even surprised the couple with a personalized dessert and gift items from the salon. By the end of the evening, the husband and wife were in tears thanking Billy and his staff for such a wonderful experience.
By remaining in the driver’s seat, Billy never broke his own policy yet converted an infuriated, frustrated customer into a weeping, grateful friend of the business.
There’s so much to learn from that story.
– Don’t cave to avoid conflict.
– Manage interactions from the start.
– Clearly state—and respect—your own policies.
– Exceed expectations.
– Drive thy business.
We don’t have to appease to please our customers. What a great lesson! What’ve you learned behind the wheel of your business? What drives you to succeed? Please—share your thoughts over on the Facebook group page. We’d LOVE to hear from you!
Thanks for reading…always!