This guest post features a good friend of our company, Patrick Spear. Patrick is the President/CEO of GMDC|Retail Tomorrow.
How many times have we heard those two words? In our 24/7 world, response times have contracted, and things that used to be just “important” have now become “urgent” thanks to our constant smart phone availability, and the expectations of our customers, clients and colleagues. In a sense, it’s a trap we set for ourselves when we blur the boundaries between work life and home life.
That said, urgency is important, and it’s often the difference between a satisfied client – and the enhanced market and revenue opportunities that come with a positive referral – or the loss of business to a more responsive competitor. Recently, I’ve experienced both ends of the urgency spectrum, and I’ll take heightened urgency every time.
My insight into a lack of urgency involved a builder/contractor (I know, it sounds cliché, but what is it about contractors that inspires a less-than-urgent approach to customer satisfaction?). We identified a problem with our home, still under the builder warranty, and it took almost five months to resolve what could/should have been handled in about four weeks. In many ways, the process was more painful than a root canal. Why did it take so long? Because my satisfaction was not a priority.
The builder knows that, on occasion, I blog, and it was only when I mentioned that I do blog, and sometimes use social media as an outlet for my rants (which are visible to my friends in the local real estate community; “I’ve got a Facebook page, and I’m not afraid to use it…”) that the urgency to resolve the problem became heightened. Thankfully, the problem has (mostly) been resolved, but the builder will gain no future referrals from me (likely just the opposite).
Thankfully, in addition to the dark side, I’ve also experienced true urgency and a focus on customer satisfaction, when I recently had a tire replaced on my car. The tire store down the street from my house was not able to help me, instead referring me to a tire store 20 minutes away. While I reluctantly drove down to see the other tire dealer – it was hardly convenient – imagine my surprise when the store manager ran out the front door to greet me, quoted me in five minutes, and said he’d have me out in 40 minutes (while apologizing for the delay).
I was astounded, and it was only then that I noticed that all the store associates were running and/or fast walking in the shop area (I trust their insurance carrier is OK with this…), moving from warehouse to shop floor and from car to car, all in an effort to get their customers in, and out, quickly. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen anything like it, and can say with certainty that they earned all of my future tire business, and I’ll tell all my friends (you included).
Next time you’re staring at an under-developed sales pipeline, or a soft revenue forecast, ask yourself “Am I doing all that I can to inspire urgency in my business?” You may be surprised, especially if your words don’t match your deeds. Market share and client satisfaction are a 24/7 proposition, and while you can still carve out rational boundaries between your work and home life, urgency is the ante in the game of business, and it is palpable to your clients.
Looking for some insights on how to develop urgency in your business? Two of the best resources I’ve encountered in my career are as follows;
- A Sense of Urgency, by John P. Kotter (published September, 2008). www.kotterinternational.com/kotterprinciples/urgency
- 95% Share Marketing; a training program developed by Jim Niekamp and Scott Fanning, involving two of the most amazing days you’ll ever spend learning. www.95share.com
As you enter your fall busy season, you may find yourselves working on returns that could have been completed this summer – but the firm lacked urgency. Discuss the importance of caring as much about resolving a client matter as the client does in your next team meeting and share any ideas you have for increasing urgency in your firm.