Who me? Change?

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We can learn a lot by observing how business professionals handle change.  Most will tell you they welcome change and are prepared to act quickly should their markets shift suddenly, which they almost always do.  They tell you they’re open to new ideas and new ways of doing business.  But then an opportunity arises or a challenge/threat is presented and people decide to proceed with caution or they choose to hold onto their core beliefs and businesses practices.

But be forewarned, there are individuals and organizations out there that don’t feel bound by the past.  They think about situations and business challenges in different ways.  They remain open to all kinds of possibilities.  And sometimes, this openness brings about opportunity and a competitive edge.

Change for the sake of change isn’t always the answer.  In some instances, we see people and organizations willing to change and compromise their ethical standards and reputation at the expense of earning as much business as possible.  But there are others who manage to hold onto their values while still finding ways to break away from the pack.

Here’s a real world scenario that happened to me recently.  I think it speaks volumes about the power of change in a highly competitive market, and it offers some interesting lessons for the mental health field.

The Credibility Factor

I had an important lunch meeting scheduled on a Monday.  Unfortunately, I forgot to order food and it was 4:30pm on Sunday afternoon.  “Who would be open this late on a Sunday?”

I began listing off restaurants I liked and believed could solve my problem.  I used some of these restaurants in the past while others came recommended by peers.  And from that list of candidates I identified five I felt could best meet my needs.  What’s interesting about the process I went through is that it is one made everyday in every industry.  And OH how valuable it is to be the business that consistently winds up on someone’s top five list!

But the story doesn’t end there.

Removing Barriers, Embracing Change & the Customer Service Experience

I called the first restaurant hoping to resolve the matter and move on with my day.  I wanted to buy their services – badly.  Unfortunately, the poor gentleman on the other line didn’t seem able to accommodate me.  He was hesitant when I told him I needed delivery the following day.  He informed me his restaurant typically needed 24 hours notice.  He checked with his manager who finally relented after much persuading on my part.  Back and forth we went as he presented obstacle after obstacle.  He could not provide the food until 12 noon even though I needed it for 11:30am.  “We have so many orders we won’t have time to make your order.  Our cooks don’t come in until 11am.” I was frustrated but kept marching forward.  When it seemed like everything was resolved I let him know how many plates I would need.  He paused for a moment and politely informed me that they don’t have plates or utensils. He said, “You’ll need to provide those yourself.”

Thanks, but no thanks.

Phone call number two.  I decided to try a restaurant chain that proclaimed “quick and easy” delivery service.  I called the number and it went to a voicemail.  Not exactly my idea of quick and easy.  I left a message and moved on to call number three.

I knew the third restaurant I called had the highest quality food but I also knew it was going to be pricey.  They offered no platter options.  Everything was “a la carte” and I had to work hard at figuring out what to order.  They had several restrictions in terms of how quickly they could deliver and they offered plates and utensils but at an additional cost.  On to call number four.

On my fourth call I contacted Jason’s Deli.  The only reason I didn’t call them earlier was because I always used them for lunch meetings.  I wanted something different.  But I was quickly reminded why I always went back to Jason’s Deli.  I placed the call and was greeted by a familiar voice – the manager I’ve dealt with time and time again.  She always bent over backwards to earn my business (e.g., deliveries outside her catchment area, free desserts, personal delivery by the manager, suggestions for new platters, last minute delivery orders).  No matter what my needs were she and her team came up with solutions.  They seemed to be organized in such a way that they could change how they operated at the drop of a hat.  I placed my order and within five minutes I was done.

What I find most impressive about Jason’s Deli is the fact that they’ve figured out a way to remain open and flexible without compromising their value and quality.  They hold onto their principles while quickly changing to meet customer needs.

A few minutes after I placed my order with Jason’s Deli I received a return call from the catering manager who worked for the restaurant I left a message with earlier.  I told her thanks for the return call but I had already placed my order elsewhere.  She said she would have gladly made the order if I had just waited a few minutes for a return call, as she “couldn’t be available 24/7 to take calls”.  Unfortunately for her and her restaurant, someone else was able to be available 24/7.  Someone else figured out a way to make that possible.

In my mind and in my community, Jason’s Deli get’s it.

Who get’s it in your community?


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