Courtesy says you matter to me, a lesson in service and leadership


This morning, my contractor and his wrecking crew are coming to demolish the hall bathroom in my home.  It’s the start of a bathroom makeover.  Of course, there has been a lot of planning leading up to today.  I worked with different people in order to pull this together.  Two women were instrumental to me.  Gina, a tile expert, helped me select the right tiles and designed the look of the bathroom.  Janet, a fixtures specialist, helped me select the tub, sink, faucets, etc.  Here is a short story on how I dropped the ball, twice, and how my advisors handled each situation.

Gina called me a week ago and said that delivery was arranged for Monday, would I please call back with my credit card.  She followed up with an email, to which I replied, “please call me again and when you do, I will pick up.”  Gina didn’t call, and I went on a week-long business trip.  This past Friday, I received an email from her asking to please call by 4pm with the credit card number.  I saw the email at 4:30!  I was really concerned I was going to delay the start of my own home project!  I emailed Gina and even though she had already started her weekend, she replied, “Don’t worry, we will still deliver.  Please call the warehouse over the weekend.”  I was really impressed and grateful for this excellent customer service.  Yes, I was a repeat client, but the last time I used them was about 8 years ago!

The same week, I called Janet and left a voicemail asking her to deliver on Monday.  I found out on Saturday, when visiting Janet in the showroom, that delivery was not arranged.  She started to hurl excuses at me, ‘You never called me,’ and ‘I told you I need at least two days notice.’  I was clearly disappointed, but said “I don’t want to argue with you,” to which she replied – “I am not arguing, I just want to be sure you understand this is not my fault.”  I chuckled when I heard that.  In the end, delivery is Tuesday, a one day delay, which is no big deal.

In each case, a ball was dropped, and yes, I do take responsibility.  I realize this is a simple story with a happy ending, but ‘dropped balls’ happen all the time in business.  How we react to them impacts our business success and client relationships.  Do we react like Gina and find solutions for our clients or like Janet and point blame at them?  Gina was courteous and will receive many referrals from me.  Janet wasn’t, and it hurt our business relationship (yes, I was a repeat client there too).  Courtesy and a willingness to work with others will leave a positive impression.  Whether you are a small business owner, a leader in Corporate America, or an entrepreneur, courtesy says you matter to me.  Be courteous, and the people you work with will know that they matter to you.

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