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Massage Today
June, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 06

Remember to Do the Right Thing

By Angie Patrick

My Dad was always best at giving this advice. If ever I brought to him a question for which I looked to him for guidance, he would always ask me, "What would be the right thing to do?" This has served as my compass for as long as I can remember.

As a grown adult, this deceptively simple means of righting my own course has served me well in more instances than I can count, both personally and professionally. On a personal basis, doing the right thing is not always easy, but it is certainly best. The same holds true in business, and to say that doing the right thing is always easy is a complete falsehood.

In fact, doing the right thing in business is often the HARDEST thing to do. And yet, I can never recall an instance where I had regret when doing that which is the right thing for the circumstance. Actually, it is really much easier to forgive individuals for shortcomings than it is to forgive a business for a mis-step. For an individual, we all do a pretty fair job of internalizing and providing an empathetic response, because an individual seems so much more personal. When it is a business that stumbles, we often want to crucify them on the phone, and fire up blogs/newsletters/social media with our story. I always found this dichotomy interesting. I guess I am old school and of the opinion that stuff happens. Anyone can falter or make a mistake, even companies. The true test of character comes into play when you observe how an entity tries to recover from an issue. This is when you really see what someone or something is made of.

do the right thing - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark An Example

Let's take the practical example of gift certificates. Either you hate them or you love them. Many people hate them because they require upkeep and records keeping. Many more love them because you are selling your services for the future but receive cash now! They can certainly create a fluid cash environment for you during slow times or times when you cannot see all the clients who want to see you! As beneficial as these things are though, there is a seedy underbelly. The negativity comes about when someone who has received a gift certificate allows it to lapse, and then brings it to you for servicing. What do you do?

I know people who hold strong and fast to the expiration dates, and this is the reason they do; they feel you have been given ample time to make an appointment, and should you have missed that opportunity, they would rather not service you than to have numerous gift certificates out there with opportunity for redemption at any time. A cut-off date is just that, a date in which something is cut off. And to this way of thinking I have to say, I can see the points. No one likes things unfinished or leaving things dangling, however; I should also share with you the flip side of this.

The customer who was just politely told her gift certificate was no longer valid, just called her girlfriend and let her know just how much she thought of this policy, who in turn texted her hairstylist who had an appointment booked and encouraged her to cancel because of the way you had treated her girlfriend.

Then later that day, the original customer fires off a nastygram on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and anywhere else she can gain traction to inform as many people as she can gain within her sphere of influence and share with them the bad experience she had with your practice. In sum, there is really no telling how many people just got an earful about you and how dissatisfied someone somewhere was with your policy and service level. But you can bet it has been shared over many networks and over many channels, and gauging how this might impact your company brand is really difficult to tell. You may never know what that decision cost you in the long run.

Conversely, what horrific circumstance could possibly happen if you just simply allow the client to use the gift certificate? Besides diffusing a situation you can bet the customer is ready to dispute, you have totally met and exceeded someone's expectations. Further, you have taken what could have been a confrontational experience and turned it into something that no one was expecting, and that is a stance of generosity.

Now guess what happens? Rather than your client texting her girlfriend to complain, she is now texting to rave about you, and how you honored her gift certificate despite the expiration date, and how you made her feel like a million bucks and did it with a smile on your face! She is re-booking and will be in next week for another visit! She will also likely post on her social network about what a fantastic therapist you are and how your skills rival that of an angel! Now, thanks to her, there is positive chatter going on about you, your business and your skills. You have lost only one hour of your time, and you have made a new customer happy, got a re-booking, and have positive reviews flowing like champagne. How is this a bad thing?

You really cannot buy this kind of word of mouth promotion, and it really cost you nothing. You have been, after all, paid for an hour's massage, and that is exactly what you delivered. So in total, you have lost nothing but gained so much. So, what does this say about doing the right thing? For me, it is another example of how taking my Dad's advice and simply, "Doing the Right Thing" can save you heartache and drama down the line. Thanks Dad, for this great lifelong lesson. I will continue to use this as my rudder for all of the tough decisions life tosses my way both personally and professionally.

Click here for previous articles by Angie Patrick.


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