Business Momentum and Follow Up
Business momentum is a powerful force. Among successful service operations, the positive momentum can easily be attributed to the rhythm of customer transactions. Satisfied customers keep coming back, and they tend to create more business momentum.
When I used to run long distances, momentum was vital to ensure that my pace and finishing time would not lag. Running up hills required a special effort of leaning into the hill, keeping one foot in front of the other, and looking up toward the hill’s crest. Running downhill required a different effort of going with the downhill flow, and not wasting valuable energy on slowing down to offset the gravitational pull downward.
Runners who master their downhill technique achieve two big benefits. First, the increased pace helps improve the overall finishing time due to the increased pace. Second, the descent helps to conserve energy resources for the inevitable uphill climb. The improved momentum achieved in downhill mastery is a key component for personal improvement.
While running downhill sounds easy, there is danger when forces (gravitational or otherwise) disrupt balance and result in chaos. Service operations are all about balancing available manpower and infrastructure resources to satisfy customer demands.
Likewise, leveraging the potential of the golden rule builds more positive momentum, helps to accelerate business growth, and conserves resources for the inevitable problems which may arise. Managers are urged to keep the momentum going by treating customers the way they wish to be treated. It’s as simple as that.
One key momentum behavior is follow-up, and I mean “follow-up” as a documented standard operating procedure with customers, coworkers, and vendors. In the absence of documentation, service operations possess the vapor of past conversations, which evaporate into thin air.
Good follow-up skills are a key differentiator between amateurs and professionals. When a technician is running late, calling a customer about rescheduling may seem superfluous. You assume that the customer knows, “I’ll get there when I get there.” I beg to differ.
In fact, when it comes to sharing information, most people assume the worst when they don’t know what is going on. This is a very basic human phenomenon. Simply stated, “In the absence of information, people will make things up.” Yes that’s right, in the absence of a follow-up phone call about rescheduling, a customer has no choice but to imagine why you’re late, and his imagination will lean towards the negative.
The downward spiral of a customer’s attitude is likely to result in a confrontation, which could have been averted with a simple phone call. Following up is a discipline that allows a person to be proactive and maintain control of the service delivery. The absence of a follow-up call or visit can result in a reactive environment in which the customer takes control and has the upper hand. Service managers who apply and enforce good follow-up practices differentiate themselves from the competition. In business management, this is a strategic initiative.
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