No matter how good your excuses, most customers don’t want to hear them.
My children are going against the Aussie trend and are not yet convinced that they need to eat, sleep and breathe cricket for the entire summer. Through a series of compulsory incremental exposure dosages, I am going to make sure they grow up to be well-balanced Aussie kids (plus what better excuse for Dad to watch the cricket).
I like to take them to an occasional game so last year I took them down to game four of the ODI series against the West Indies. I had started to introduce some cricket to them to warm them up and they watched the previous two matches on TV. They all thought George Bailey was fantastic – he scored his maiden ODI century in game two of the series and then in game three played a cameo role of 44 off 22 balls. If nothing else, I had created some excitement around them seeing George Bailey bat.
On the day of the match they actually started talking about seeing Bailey hit some sixes! I was excited. The kids were looking forward to the cricket! We made our long trek to the SCG and found our seats. The excitement was building. Then the day collapsed for me. The team list that was displayed on the screen did not include Bailey’s name. What had happened? How could they leave out the saviour of my children’s cricketing future? How could they drop him after his previous two match-winning efforts?
Then the announcement was made. With the five-game series wrapped up at 3-0, Cricket Australia had decided to rest George Bailey! We felt robbed. The one player the kids wanted to see more than anyone else was not playing – and this was a deliberate decision.
We had paid our money just like the people in Canberra and Perth did who saw Bailey bat. Why were we being served up a second-string team? This was all part of the rotation policy or, as Cricket Australia called it, the ‘informed player management’ policy. I can vaguely understand the direction – when players are exhausted from playing too much, give them a rest. But this looks at the scenario from the wrong perspective – the perspective of the players. The players may be playing too much. They risk injury. They are exhausted. Forget the players. The players would not be paid their salaries (to do what they love) if it weren’t for the fans.
But then you need to look at it from a different perspective. The paying fans are of much greater importance than the players. Without the fans, it’s just a bunch of players having a game in a park. The fans – directly or indirectly – pay for the entire industry that is the game of cricket. Some fans might only go to one game a year. Or, in the case of my children, they may only go to one game every few years. For the team to not put their best foot forward on every single occasion is to show complete and utter contempt for the fans. For many fans, it is their one and only chance to see their team in action.
Make no excuses
And the point of all this? This isn’t just a whinge about the rotation policy (which has since been shelved). There is a lesson here for all resellers.
I have seen businesses apologise for poor service with a flippant, “We have a staff member sick today” or “Normally, it isn’t this busy at this time of day” or some other completely reasonable excuse. But the client simply doesn’t care. Give a client all the reasonable excuses under the sun and they still won’t care. Clients don’t care about staff health issues or rosters or how well your business is trading. They only care about someone giving them great service – every single time.
Pick and choose the times to give good service and you will soon find that your clients will become tired of being treated with contempt and find somewhere else to do their business. But if you focus on delivering exceptional service with every single interaction, you will find your clients will appreciate you more and stay.
In the same way as the fans are more important than the cricketers, the needs of the clients are of much greater importance than the needs of your staff. Without the clients, there is no income and no money to pay staff.
Tell me if your business has an ‘informed staff management’ policy at firstname.lastname@example.org