Curiosity Killed the Cat… How to Fix one of the BIGGEST Problems in Business
We’ve had more tradesmen and service companies in our house in the space of one month than in the last ten years.
Most of these companies are local suppliers found on Google.
They all claimed to be experts and to be fair their workmanship was pretty good. BUT there is more than that.
We’ve also engaged with a couple of World-Class (by their claim) companies. Well, they are multi-billion-pound companies, but not sure that size alone makes them World-Class.
Guess what? They all suffered from the same problem which is SO is fixable, but I bet none of them are even aware of it. I wonder if YOU are?
Fixing this problem would save them irritation, stress, repetition, lost customers etc however the main benefit would be thousands or even millions of pounds.
Before I tell you what it is; let me explain how I stumbled upon it.
I have a simple process; when I take over an organisation I study any customer complaints – and when I say study, I really mean STUDY.
I instigate what’s called a route-cause analysis, which basically means looking at the nature of the complaint and track everything back to the cause of that complaint.
Years ago, my business and I, personally, had to be approved by the Financial Services Authority (now FCA) due to the large amount of money we managed.
Part of that approval meant we had to track complaints outlined as follows: any expression of dissatisfaction whether justified or non-justified.
Now as that business was all about repairing cars, this meant that any time Mr, Ms or Mrs Consumer expressed unhappiness we had to register it. The challenge there was they’d just had an accident which was either their fault or someone had hit them. Yep, guess what, they were NOT happy bunnies. So, our work was cut out.
We trained everyone to look for these ‘expressions’ as we had to report our complaints ratio every quarter, and if we hit more than 1 per cent of justified complaints, we could receive a visit.
I took this very seriously and met with my team weekly and ripped apart everything. Do you know what we discovered? The severity of the complaint in the customer’s eyes was mostly all about the basics of business and NOT about the complexity of what we did.
Let me repeat that as I really want it to sink in >> most of our issues were NOT about WHAT we did, it was about the basics that wrapped around it, and these repeated. Once we discovered this, we put into place a system that changed everything – it saved us lots of time, effort, resource, money and sanity. I will explain my system later but for now…
Let’s go back to last month and show you the reality.
We had to have our window refitted. We ordered, paid the deposit and was promised delivery for a certain date and time. All good.
On the morning of the delivery guess what – nothing!
We called the glazier and asked what had happened and got a long rambling excuse of their manufacturer letting them down,
‘what else could they do, this always happens’!
At the same time, our boiler was being serviced and the local plumber was due back to fit the faulty part. Once again, we waited in only this time to receive a phone call saying he was not coming as he was late on another job and by the time he got to the depot it was shut.
‘It always happens’ he said.
Let’s compound this with our alarm company who was also on site. Following a ‘slick’ sales presentation we had upgraded our alarm into something akin to Fort Knox.
‘It won’t be a problem Mr Norbury, our guys will turn up and take care of everything.’
You’d think I would have learned by now. Did they turn up on time? Yes, they did. See this is NOT about being on time that’s easy to fix, no this is even more obvious.
Two well-presented guys turned up and asked to see the boxes that were delivered over the previous three weeks. We didn’t even know these deliveries were coming until they arrived. On examination they discovered some ‘bits’ – technical term – were missing so could only do up to a certain level.
‘This always happens, we’ll need to come back next week to finish the installation, but don’t worry the alarm will still work!’
The last straw was the world’s best car company. My current Tesla was going back I WAS due to receive my order for the new Model 3.
I called Tesla on several occasions and explained the situation of returning one and receiving another, but nobody seemed to know what to do. Wow, I thought I must be the only customer going through this. Really!! Big warning signs.
Eventually, I got someone who appeared to know what was going on to send me a list of places I could return my current Model to. I arranged a time and date.
I then received a polite phone call explaining that the site I’d arranged to drop my car off was NOT a drop off centre and I would have to change the time and date. Would I please change it…?
BANG! I went off like Vesuvius.
I asked a simple question (and this is the secret):
‘Are you about to make the same phone call to someone else about a similar problem? Basically, does this happen all the time?’
Answering a little surprised:
‘well yes I am’.
‘Are you not CURIOUS as to why?’
And that ladies and gentlemen is one of the biggest problem’s businesses suffer today. Nobody is trained to be curious as to WHY things happen. In our SCALE Model™, we call it ‘Lessons Learned’ and we enshrine it in the culture of all our clients.
All of those companies KNEW these things happened all the time, BUT nobody understood why or even tried to set my expectations.
Both window company and plumber could have said: ‘We may get let down/delayed so just warning you in advance.’ Okay, thanks.
Alarm company: ‘You will receive boxes, and someone will call you to check.’ Okay, thanks.
Car Company. This was the great one: ‘The list we sent you has the wrong return centres on it’. Change the F***** list then.
That guy was making calls every single day but didn’t realise that the marketing department was sending out the wrong list. I had to discover it for them. Nobody was curious as to WHY?
If you have been trading for five years or more and you are not near perfect, you suffer from the same challenge.
You are NOT learning from your lessons.
It is SO simple to change and it will stop you wasting so much time and money.
Be curious, set expectations if you know something is going to happen, tell your customers up front. You are the expert on what you do. They are not.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it will save your business.
The Scalability Coach | Britain’s Top 10 Adviser 2018 | Author of #1 bestseller I don’t work Fridays | Ex-CEO of a PLC