Imagine this scenario: Before leaving for vacation, you leave instructions with your staff, "Do not call me unless there is an emergency." A day into your vacation your phone rings and it's an employee saying that Client X needs you to call them back. You ask if it's an emergency. The employee assures you that it is indeed an emergency. So you take time away from your vacation and call the client back, only to find out it's a simple request that your staff not only can handle, but must handle since you are out of the office.
It's easy to assume that either your employee or your client is calling wolf. From your point of view, especially since you're on a much needed vacation, this wasn't an emergency. From the employee's point of view they asked the client very directly, "is this an emergency?" When the client said yes the employee simply followed your instructions. From the client's point of view this day to day task was an emergency. They need it done today whether you're in the office or not.
This scenario occurs in businesses every day. When your clients speak up, your business is trained to react, for better or worse. It works when your business is small, but the bigger your business gets the harder this becomes. It leads to "fires" that distract you from vacations, from working on the business, from prospecting....the list of what you don't have time to get to becomes endless. Instead of being proactive, your business becomes very reactive and in a sense, becomes held captive by your clients. As your business grows, your business has to do something different but without sacrificing service.
Part of the problem might stem from not having your staff trained adequately on how to handle "fires". If you haven't already you should read last week's article, "You Cannot Be the Most Important Person in Your Business." Another issue is often the lack of a great system for answering and prioritizing client requests whether those requests are in person, by phone, or even by email or text. You've probably heard the term gatekeeper and may have encountered a gatekeeper when you're calling leads, but how good is your own gatekeeper?
This week we challenge you to create a "gatekeeper" system for your business. What are the questions your staff should be asking when a client has a request? How does your business define what an emergency is?