2 MINUTES LATE: “Are you almost here?”
6 MINUTES LATE: “Everyone is here! Where are you?”
13 MINUTES LATE: “Did you forget about the meeting?”
20 MINUTES LATE: “Is everything okay, Remi?”
This was a training exercise that our team never forgot…
One of the things that I’m known for is my punctuality. It’s not uncommon for clients to tell me “My gosh, when you say 1:30pm you really mean 1:30pm!”
TIME is a commodity I put a high value on both for others and myself.
So when I told my team “today’s meeting is particularly important so please make sure to be here by 3pm and don’t be late”… NO ONE was late… except for me!
You see, back in the summer of 2009 we had started to meet every Monday afternoons at 3:30pm for some coaching, bonding & to basically give everyone a chance to voice their concern or offer solutions to existing problems so that we could all learn and grow together as a team.
Back then it had come to my attention that we had received a few phone calls from clients a few minutes past the time painters were supposed to arrive. Those calls were coming around 8:05am and 8:10am which was about 5 to 10 minutes after the painters were supposed to be there.
So what I wanted to have the team experience was the roller coaster of emotions our clients go through when something like this happens.
You see, while it may be obvious to you that you’re only a few minutes behind for whatever reason that day… the client doesn’t know this.
And during those few minutes past the time they were expecting you, that client can go through a wide range of emotions that won’t improve their experience… and in fact, could very well set things up for them to be very easily upset.
The text messages started at 3:02pm that Monday afternoon and continued right up to 3:25pm when I casually walked down the stairs to our usual meeting spot… which didn’t sit very well with the team.
Some asked if I had forgot that I had told them to be here at 3pm instead of our usual 3:30pm?
Some told me they really could have spent the extra time on their job instead of wasting 30 minutes here at the office.
Some asked me if everything was ok.
Some were too pissed to say anything.
And after a few minutes, I gave everyone a look that told them this had been planned and then I asked everyone to share how they had felt during this time of “uncertainty”.
We ended up spending the rest of our time together talking about what goes through a person’s mind when something like this happens. And with everyone there having felt a different set of emotions, it became clear to everyone how each client will react differently to having a painter show up late.
At the conclusion of our meeting, we all agreed on this new rule:
If you know you’re going to be even 2 minutes late, let the client know.
That experiment with my team created a long lasting impression on them and has turned what would sometimes be seen as a negative thing (being late)… into a very positive thing.
Because when you take the time to call your client to let them know you’re on your way but will be a few minutes late, it shows PROFESSIONALISM… and it shows that you CARE and VALUE THEIR TIME.