Bite Lemon, Taste Sugar…
HOW we handle the decisions we make
Anyone that has spent a day in retail, especially retail management knows that we are faced with difficult decisions each day. Often these decisions come down to gray area polices that we must use wise judgment on when to cross for the right situation. Sticking with retail to help relate where each of us has been, either as leader or the customer, read the following:
Have you ever returned an item outside of its return policy? How did that interaction go? Did you accomplish your return without a problem? Was someone involved? Did you get shut down instantly? Did you build a relationship with a leader that earned your lifelong loyalty?
Each of the outcomes mentioned above are reality, and the fact is that how we as leaders handle the decisions we make, are even more important than the decision itself.
So let’s switch roles from customer to leader. You are now the manager and you have a customer that is trying to exchange a vacuum cleaner two days past the return period. You know that you can do the return and make a customer potentially satisfied, but you also know that this decision has an impact on your company.
The point of this article is not to avoid making the wrong decision, but how you handle that decision. If we assume that you make an empowered decision to accept the return and make the customer satisfied, how will the rest of this interaction play out?
While many leaders feel that their role as a decision maker is to simply decide to return the merchandise and move on, it’s actually the follow-up that is so much more important. Biting the lemon and tasting the sugar refers to our ability to make a difficult decision, and succeeding with the best follow-through.
Again, assuming that you made the decision to exchange the vacuum, this is your chance to really show this customer how much you value their business. Grab your business card, treat them like a VIP, let them know that this exception is because they were sincere and you can tell they are a loyal customer. Exchange names and finalize with a hand shake, and oh yea, SMILE the whole time. This is how you make life-long customers.
I can picture in my mind right now, a leader frowning and oozing sarcasm and tension into the air, rolling their eyes and heavy breathing making the customer feel their frustration. –Been there before? This customer rarely speaks up, but trusts me- you might as well tell them to throw the vacuum cleaner in the garbage, you ruined your chance to taste the sugar.
Once you make the decision, whatever decision it is, make sure you are making the most out the decision you made.