Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Lessons from a Muddy Lettuce

Lettuce Laundrette

I had a chuckle when I received a veg box from Abel & Cole last week. Among the onions, carrots and cabbage was a white card, about the size of a business card. Sometimes they add a card to tell you they've added a free lemon or mince pie so I read it with interest. Here it is:
I wondered what could have prompted the note and concluded that someone had probably complained about their lettuce being a bit muddy in the past.

What kind of person would complain about a muddy lettuce? Lettuces grow in the ground, right? Surely is a bit of mud is only to be expected on real food that has pushed through real earth, been warmed by real sun and watered by real water?

Choose Option 4

It made me wonder what had happened in the Abel & Cole workplace as the complaint was received. Did they laugh? Shake their heads in disbelief? Feel outraged (as I did) about the unreasonableness of people? Whatever they did behind closed doors, they moved swiftly to action.
In my experience, there are four reactions to feedback:

  1. Ignore and hope everyone else forgets about it
  2. Deny, deflect, defend and then destroy all evidence of it
  3. Ingest it, focus on the worst bits, worry about it. Then follow steps 1 & 2
  4. Take it, own it, do something about it
Abel & Cole chose option 4. This, among other reasons, is why they are one of my role model businesses* (see more on this soon!)

So what?

It can feel uncomfortable or even insulting when someone criticises our business, our department or our service. We can take things personally and react with emotion (options 1, 2 and 3 above).

Perhaps you’ve found yourself turning it back on the complainant? This is just one person in 100 or 1000, who cares? They are being overly nit picky and unreasonable.

Once our emotional reaction has subsided, it's time to look for the nugget of truth that will improve your business (option 4).

One truth is that this customer, client or partner expected more from you. So ask yourself:
  • Which personal values were being triggered in my emotional reaction to this feedback? 
  • What did this person expect that was not satisfied? (ignoring whether that expectation was realistic) 
  • What would my business look like if I delivered this expectation every time? 
  • What immediate action honours my personal values? 
  • What action will mititgate against this feedback in future? 

Nuggets of Truth (Or the Mud on Your Lettuce)

Those nuggets of truth could stop complaints in the future. They could even be what sets you apart from your competitors and brings you even greater happiness and success.

As Bill Gates said, "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning."

I’d love to hear your customer feedback stories!

*and to make it even better, they sent me a copy of the note within 24 hours of my email request so I could use it here! Top banana!

Friday, 6 June 2014

I Should Be So Lucky!

My 10 year old son is convinced he is unlucky. The evidence he uses to make this assertion ranges from his team not winning their football tournament to his choice of meal at a restaurant with all sorts of other "facts" in between.

"So, if you're unlucky, how come you got the trophy at the sports camp?" I countered.  
"That wasn't luck, that was skill."
"And when you got recognised for your guitar playing? "Skill." 
"And when you had that delicious ice cream?" "Skill - I chose the best flavour"

Hmm.  Being unlucky accounts for the "bad" stuff that happens but the "good" stuff is down to skill?

We do this as adults too. Why didn't I complete that action on my list?  Because x/y/z came up and that had to take priority.  Notice, "I" doesn't feature in the reason. This "thing" came up and "it" had priority - nothing to do with me!

Let's be honest, I CHOSE not to do that action.  I chose to prioritise something else (anything else - I am a master of procrastination).  It was entirely my decision.  

We're great at coming up with reasons and excuses for why things are the way we are and why we do, or don't do stuff. But that's all they are, excuses.  An excuse helps us pretend that we didn't have a choice and it wasn't our fault.  

There is always choice. In fact, there are many choices. Perhaps the impact of one those choices is unpalatable but it is a choice none-the-less.

Our hesitation in owning our choices often relates to the way we assess them - right and wrong, good and bad.  "I want to make the right choice."  Right according to whom?

In reality, the only person who can decide whether it is the "right" choice is you.  How you weigh up the options and make your decision may depend on a few things (see my previous blog post) but the key elements to hold on to are whether your choice honours your values.  If it does, you're on strong ground.

So when you find yourself looking to others, "things" or "life" for reasons (excuses) as to why you haven't changed something, ask yourself these questions:

  • what are my choices? (be honest and think laterally)
  • which choices relate closest to my values?
And remember, doing nothing can be a conscious choice too!

And as for my "unlucky" 10 year old? Perhaps a bit of work on getting comfortable with not being skillful at everything.  Wish me luck!