Most of our major problems in life grow like plants. Small problems usually are like seedlings without any roots. They can usually be solved quickly and inexpensively. Instead, too often our small problems are neglected, and like the roots of a plant, they take hold and begin to grow without much notice. Then one day, when fully matured, these small problems turn into an expensive nuisance. If all problems were fixed at the earliest stages, one could circumvent lots of stress, huge expenses and distasteful or even life threatening consequences.
In this lesson, we will discuss a few examples to illustrate how brilliant it is to fix small problems quickly. Since gasoline prices are on everyone's mind today, let's take a look at why we should maintain our vehicles. Cars and trucks need attention to run efficiently and to save big bucks on repairs. At the first sign of an antifreeze leak on your driveway or garage floor, you are made aware of a small problem. If you immediately take your vehicle to an honest auto technician, you may need a thermostat replaced; a radiator hose replaced; or some other minor part replaced. Your quick fix for this small problem might cost $100-$150. If you ignore this small problem for too long, you may end up losing lots of fluid on the road far from home; overheating the engine; and ending up being towed to a repair shop facing a $3000 bill for a new engine. Which option sounds more brilliant?
The same type of scenario plays out in everyone's life when it comes to health problems. As an example, smokers all know how dangerous it is to continue putting off the day when they quit puffing on their poison. As difficult as it is to kick this addiction, we all know that it is possible to FIX this habit. If twenty-year-olds could fix this habit early in their life, they could avoid the pain and suffering that's ahead of them and their loved one's when they develop heart problems, lung cancer or a multitude of other ailments that they are destined for.
In business, you can never please every customer, all of the time. But that doesn't mean that you should ever stop trying! Most customers that stop buying a certain product or service from a store or company quit because they had a small problem that did not get resolved. As a business owner I always believed that if a customer had a legitimate complaint, he was giving us the opportunity to fix it and keep him as a lifetime customer. It was always in our best interest to listen, investigate, and come up with a QUICK solution that our company and our customer could live with and walk away smiling. No business ever wins when there are legitimately angry customers roaming the streets, telling everyone who will listen that they were ripped off or treated terribly by a store or company. When customer problems are small, they can be fixed quickly and inexpensively compared to when they are ignored and cost future business; possible lawsuits; or a smeared reputation.
As a personal consumer of many products and services, I tend to buy whatever I need from stores and companies that treat me with respect. I've had a checking account with the same bank since 1979, through 4 mergers. I've used the same cell phone carrier since the early 1990's, through 3 mergers. I've used the same auto insurance company since the late 1980's. I've been doing business with the same alarm company, air conditioning and heating company and others for two decades. And I just hit the 30th anniversary on an original whole life insurance policy. My point here is that lifetime customers are very valuable. Thus, it's in the best interest of all companies that sell me products and services to FIX my small problems quickly. When you are in business, you never know which customers will be as loyal as I have. By not fixing small problems, a business may lose the revenue generated from a lifetime of purchases, from an individual or company that stops buying. If companies irritate enough clients by not fixing small problems, their demise will be sooner rather than later.
Too often, I am faced with horrible customer service. I'm always amazed by television ads for brokerage houses; telephone companies; cable companies; and a variety of large corporations that advertise that their customers come first. My own experiences from dealing with these type companies have been the exact opposite. I am constantly calling about mistakes on my monthly statements from companies that I "have to" do business with, such as cable or local telephone companies. And almost always I feel like a nuisance for reporting THEIR errors. They insulate themselves through minutes of computer phone options and after being placed on hold for what seems like an eternity, I'm grilled as if I committed a crime for reporting THEIR error. In all of these cases, there's a real disconnect between their advertising agency and their customer service department. In these cases, the first chance I get to quit doing business with these companies, I run fast. If only they learned to FIX my small problems quickly, they might gain a loyal customer for decades. That's why I passionately believe that you should always FIX small problems quickly!