Do the Right Thing
My husband Craig and I are planning to build our dream cabin on our beautiful forested property in Northern California. We thought it would be a great idea to rent an RV for a week so we could experience what living that life would be like. So, we planned for the perfect outcome. We had an outcome alright, but it was far from perfection.
In April, I called the closest RV rental company to our property. I spoke with Darby and let her know that Craig and I are city folks and know absolutely nothing about RVs. When we arrived, I wanted the RV to be at the pre-designated location, all set-up and ready to be lived in. Darby assured me that this is what they do all the time and she would personally see that everything would be taken care of.
When we arrived, Ted, the RV delivery, and setup guy was just pulling up with the RV. He was pleasant enough but was in such a hurry to leave us that he breezed over the orientation of how everything worked.
He shoved a pink paper at Craig and said everything we needed to know was there and if we had questions, just call the number at the bottom of the page.
In three days, we experienced what it was like to live in an unleveled tin box. We walked up the hill to the kitchen area, slept with our feet higher than our heads and constantly grabbed the bathroom door every time it swung open on the uneven floor. Aiden, our poor Golden Retriever, now has a complex about dodging opened doors.
We learned that when the batteries that power the propane furnace run out of a charge (because Ted forgot to check them) the carbon monoxide alarm would scream every 45 seconds. We discovered that our trusty deliveryman forgot to empty the black water tank before delivering the RV to our property. (If you don’t know what that is, take a wild guess, and you’d be right.)
We also discovered, at 1 a.m., what it means to run out of propane when its 40 degrees. It was so cold you could hang meat. And, because no one told us how little the water tank holds, we had to string 600 ft. of water hose from the neighboring property so we could have water to shower and do dishes. Thank God for great neighbors.
The instructions “hurry-up” Ted left us were sorely lacking. It would have been so easy to include – “There are two propane tanks. If you run out of propane, move the black toggle switch to the right and propane from the second tank will take over.”
It would have been nice if he showed us where the tanks were. With intermittent cell service on our property, we couldn’t reach out to the listed help number.
The following morning, I finally reached, Jorden, the owner’s son who came out, apologized profusely, looked me right in the eyes and listened while I spewed my wrath. Craig, in his serene way, walked our property with a cup of coffee in hand and Aiden by his side.
Jorden, interjected apologies, empathetic statements and let me blow off steam. He then fixed every issue, calmly gave us a thorough orientation so we would be prepared for any unforeseen situation and made sure that all of our questions were answered.
The care he gave us and the interest he showed in the experience we were trying to have made up for what we had just gone through. In fact, he offered to give us an extra day at no additional charge to help compensate for what we had been through. Jorden did the right thing for the right reason.
If you’re a business owner:
- Take a look at your employees. Do you really know how they interact with your customers? You won’t know unless you ask your customers to complete a short survey or you call them yourself for feedback.
- Take a look at your customer instruction materials and leave-behinds. Are they clear? Are they comprehensive? Have you covered all possible situations? In your survey, ask your customer what additional information would have been helpful to know.
- Role-play with your employees. Make sure that when they are in a position of instructing the customer, they understand what they are communicating. Confirm that they can easily articulate what needs to be communicated.
- To the customer, every one of your employees represents the core value of your company. Do you have the right employees interfacing with your precious customers? Get to know your employees and what value they bring to your company. Do they have the interpersonal skills needed to interact with your customers? Are their skills better suited for a position that does not require customer interaction?
If you’re an employee:
- If your job is to interact with the customer, ask yourself if you truly like interfacing with strangers who can be irritating and rude. Is this job right for you?
- Are you a good listener? Can you look past the craziness and feel the customer’s pain? Are you good at remaining calm and seeing the situation from your client’s perspective?
- Do you put yourself in your customer’s shoes and prepare them for what could and should happen?
- Do you leave the customer with the sense that if they ever need help they would want to seek your guidance above all others?
- Do you do the right thing for the right reason?