Your Customers Emergencies

By Christina Suter on Nov 18, 2017 at 09:53 AM in Business Issues
Your Customers Emergencies

I was at a meeting recently sharing about time management and a gentleman asked me when I was done, "What happens when you get a phone call and your customer is 'on fire' and hijacks your day?" So I wanted to write a post touching on that very question because as a small business owner you've undoubted encountered a client or customer who calls you upset or with an emergency.

What happens in your business when your customer has an emergency? Your day is moving right along and you're getting work done when a customer calls you and they're yelling and upset. You now take on whatever their emergency is, as your own and now your day is spinning. How do you decide what the best way to handle the emergency is and calm everything down? Do you forget that spinning out of control with them doesn't solve anything? Do you forget that them transferring their emergency state to you brings anxiety to you or sends you into a crisis?What if you found a way to ground yourself so their crisis doesn't create your crisis?

Your customers want you to believe their emergency is your emergency. But is it? Customers want you to correct their problem; they care about their feelings and they don't care that it's not their problem. Instinctively, you may feel you or your company is at risk if you don't spring into action for them.

Your business type dictates your response.

If you're a high-end company that offers high-end service, your customer has been promised and paid for your response. But if you sell things like a lot of books or toys, how do you respond? Your business type dictates what your customer expects from you. Pricing of your product is the tell, so lower cost products should receive a lower level of customer service and engagement. You can't afford to give white glove service to the millions of people who buy from you. But, if you sell just one BMW a day, for example, your customer will expect to get a BMW level of customer service and support. The service is built into the price of the car with BMW, it's a promise the customer has paid for. 

Have you priced service into your product?

You may have a desire to give service that is above your pricing. I went to a bike shop once because I'd left my bike outside and the tires needed servicing and the handlebars were corroded, and so on. I was given a service quote of $60 for the tire but when I offered to buy new handlebars the service man told me not to and that he'd take care of it. When I showed up to pick up my bike everything was cleaned, the tires were new, and the handlebars looked great. He spent a couple of hours scrubbing the corrosion off my handlebars but only charged me $60 for all the work he'd done. He was the bike shop owner, not an employee, so if the work took him 3 hours than he earned $20 per hour he has to factor into that the water, electricity, insurance, rent, etc. that hour of work cost him, plus his time. By that time he's made less than minimum wage by not charging me for customer service. The bike shop owner would have done best to replace my tires but charging me extra for the handlebars. They would have then trained me on what to expect for what I was going to pay. 

Your time will get hijacked by your employees and your clients so you need to set up your day so a percentage of your time is free to respond to emergencies. If the emergencies don't come, great, you have more time for your work. Make yourself available to be hijacked on purpose. David Allen talks about in his book, Getting Things Done, urgent versus important. If something is important, meaning it supports the value, the mission statement, and culture of your business, do it. If it's important and urgent, do it first and right away. If it's not important or urgent, move it off your list and if it's important but not urgent, move it further down your list. 

Respond based on your company's values, not based on your customer's emergencies.

Create a procedure for what your company's response is to customer emergencies. Educate your customer based on your brand and the quality and price of the product you offer. If you let your bottom line bleed you'll need to eventually close your company. You are the last one to be paid, so you'll be the one who suffers if you don't get control of how you handle urgencies.