By Thad Plumley
I knew when I heard the word “forgot” that my wife and I were in trouble.
We had both left our offices early one afternoon and driven separately to a meeting. The receptionist peeked her head in the door of the person we were scheduled to see when “forgot” floated out the room.
The person we came to see appeared and told us she had forgotten our appointment and asked if we could come back another time because her “day has been crazy.” She waved her arms as if that helped show the level of craziness.
“Perhaps tomorrow could work,” she added as she began walking backward toward her office before signing off with a whispered, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
“What just happened?” I asked Claudia. I also should neither confirm nor deny right here that I might have included an adjective in my question.
I was reassured all would work out and to look on the bright side—I had the afternoon back to dedicate toward my to-do list.
Yeah, okay, but the lack of professionalism leveled me.
Think for a few minutes how that situation could have been different. Imagine if my wife and I would have been told, “I have to be honest; I forgot. I’m sorry. Give me three minutes to straighten up my office and I’m all yours.”
Or how about, “I admit I forgot. Sit down for five minutes while I email a few people who were going to stop by in a little bit and then you’ll have my undivided attention.”
I would have left the meeting appreciative of the honesty, not awed by the lack of integrity.
I know you get surprises at your company too. There are times when you get an out-of-water emergency phone call as you are heading out to dinner with the family. Sometimes it’s a panicked farmer calling to say his animals don’t have water as you are in route to a little league game.
If you have been in the groundwater industry for very long, these types of calls have come on holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries too.
And what do you do? You head out to help the customer every time. You don’t say “perhaps tomorrow” followed by “thank you, thank you, thank you.”
I hope when you see these customers that you, your company vehicle, and equipment look professional and that you act professionally the entire time you rise to the occasion and solve the emergencies.
I hope this because these unplanned moments are how the customers are going to remember you forever.
You know how I know this? I’ll eventually see the person who Claudia and I were supposed to meet, and the first thing that comes to my mind will be someone waving her hands talking about forgetting us.
It won’t be someone rising to the occasion.
Thad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and director of information products at the National Ground Water Association. He can be reached at email@example.com, or (800) 551-7379, ext. 1594.