By Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author’s program note. You knew it was going to be one of those days when, upon waking late, you stepped on the cat’s tail… to be promptly punished by the feline drawing blood with her oh-so-sharp claws. And this was just the beginning…
We all have such days… and we all need to know what to do about them to avoid worsening an already trying situation and bounce back, flags flying, good humor intact and only the barest number of welts and bruises.
For such a day, Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) and his lighter-than-air style was born. In 1858, the world was gladdened (and scandalized) by what was said to be the first classical full-length operetta, “Orpheus in the Underworld”. It contained what soon became one of the most celebrated pieces of music ever composed: “The Infernal Galop” which we all better know (and erroneously) as the “Can-Can”, where a lady’s bottom took Offenbach to the top.
This music, which can be found in any search engine, strikes just the right note for your chaotic day. “Orpheus in the Underworld” helps you get out of Hades, back to life at the top of your game.
Take a deep breath.
Could the day get any worse? Of course… and on days like this… it will.
You can scald yourself in the shower. Get trapped in rush hour traffic. Spill hot coffee on yourself.
All this sound familiar? It’s just the beginning.
Your boss is in one of his “moods.” The sales figures are bad. Your best customer just quit. And they don’t have your favorite dough-nut at the commissary.
Yes, it’s one of those days, and your job is to get control of it… before it gets any worse.
Take a deep breath. You’ve probably confronted a ton of messes in your life. This one is just a little more intense and demanding. Start with the sure-to-ground- you deep breath.
Then sit down at your desk, and jot a quick to-do list of what you need to do, when you’re going to do it, and how you’re going to do it. This is how to begin reestablishing the control that you must have, the control so necessary to efficiency and enabling you to do what’s necessary, instead of being at the mercy of events. Remember at all times: there is only one of you… and so you must prioritize what is important… and what (the dough-nut) can wait and so can any other personal matters. Matters involving your job come first.
Get your boss off your back.
To buy yourself some time, deal with your boss first. Even if he’s being demanding and difficult (so what else is new?)… he is the boss… and if you get him off your back, you’ll buy yourself some of the time you really need to reassert control and move ahead. Take notes on what the boss says. Then ask him for his priorities about what should be done. Don’t assume. Ask the boss to tell you what he wants, how important it is, and its priority in today’s scheme of things. End with “aye, aye, Captain”. Then go back and mesh what the boss said…with your own priorities. Your job is to know what the important things are… then get down to doing them.
Saving the lost customer.
One thing that can always knock you for a loop is losing a big account. This, for sure, is a matter for immediate, concentrated attention. But before you make this call, think. You may get only one chance to turn things around. You must be sure you 1) understand the customer’s complaint and reason for canceling and 2) be prepared to address these points in deft detail. You must be as clear as you can be with why this key customer is quitting. What has she said before that’ll give you a clue? People usually don’t cancel without warning; there are omens. What were they? And what have you done and can you do to answer these concerns and make things better? Remember, the goal is keeping this person happy and the account where it belongs: with you. And this is going to take thought and constructive action.
Once you’re ready — but not until — place the call. Remember if you turn this around, you’ll get the positive momentum you need to turn the entire day around…. you’ll be a hero; this is, after all, a Big Deal. So, place the crucial call… no pressure!
If the customer is determined to cancel, she probably won’t take the call. This may mean she’s determined to burn the bridge. Bad sign. This may also mean that she’s brought her concerns to you in the past (however gently) and that you failed to act on them. Now these chickens are coming home to roost. Be prepared to eat crow… and a lot of it. Remember, this is business… and your job is to get that account back, whatever it takes.
Call again in 30 minutes, taking care of other matters from your to-do list in the meantime. Remember, your job today is to be super efficient and shake off the woes by checking off completed items from your list, even small things. Everything counts toward regaining efficiency, control, and as much serenity as you can muster.
Now try that all-important customer again. Unless this customer has made an irrevocable decision about not doing further business, this time you should connect. Remember, you are here to fix a problem; to get the customer to change her mind again and, with a very good deal from you, a better deal than she has now, return to the fold.
What, offer a better deal? Yes… you want this contract. You may very well have to renegotiate the terms to keep it. At least you should be prepared…
Now that you’ve got the customer on the line, your job is, first, to listen carefully to what she says. So, lean back… hear and evaluate what the customer has to say. Don’t rush this call. You are lucky to have it and lucky to have this chance to save your bacon.
Now, when it’s your turn to talk be prepared for the following:
* If you’ve made promises in the past, say so. Don’t defend a position that’s indefensible.
* If you can truly do what the customer needs, say so. You must make your strongest possible case now; you may never get another chance.
* Remind the customer just how long you’ve been part of her team and that you’re willing to do, adamant to do, what will help her. Then bring on the extra goodies you’ve got to keep their business.
Sincerity, clarity, honesty, and, yes, enthusiasm are all part of the what you need. You are aiming for one of two outcomes. First, if the customer still won’t budge, ask for at least the courtesy of a day or two for her to reconsider. This is better than affirmation of the account’s cancellation.
Better, of course, is the customer’s willingness to try again… thereby not only giving you the time you need to turn things around… not only with this customer specifically but with your day-from-Hades generally.
You’re smart, you’re following these recommendations… I feel confident, therefore, that you’re going to re-establish beneficial relations with that key customer who just moments ago was ready to write you off. But not now.
Therefore, you need Jacques Offenbach again… and his celebrated “Infernal Galop,” for with what you’ve read here… and with the essential dollop of galop… I feel sure you “Can-Can” do anything on what may prove to be your best day ever.
And, by the way, your favorite doughnut has just come into the commissary. Take two, you’ve earned them!
*What do you think? Post your comments below.
About the Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., a company providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Dr. Jeffrey Lant is also the author of 18 best-selling business books.
Republished with author’s permission by Graham Lee The Income Zone.
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