Have you ever had a client call you after hours in a panic to tell you something had gone horribly wrong with their project, only to find out that it was something minor or that could have waited till the next day? Of course you have; it happens all the time in business. But how did you respond?
Did you immediately answer? Did you promise to come up with a solution right then and there? Or, worse, did you then start calling others to get them involved in the drama? Because that’s the key – how you respond to those “emergencies” can make or break you and your business.
Yes, customer service is the keystone of any successful company – I talk about that all the time. But there’s customer service and then there’s enabling, and you have to understand the difference and know how to handle those non-emergency panic attacks.
Business is just a series of calm and crazy, especially when you’re dealing with so many players. And sometimes you’re working with people who just seem to thrive on drama. We can find ourselves getting absolutely nothing done because we’re putting out wildfires that didn’t really need our immediate attention. And there are two particular reasons for why immediately responding to a non-emergency is not a good idea.
First, you get caught up in the crazy – especially if you’re responding to all of those “emergencies” after hours. And sometimes, if you get caught up in the crazy, you can help spin it even further without meaning to. It can escalate in the heat of the moment. So it’s good to have some space, and allow things to calm down to a more rational point before you deal with it.
One thing you can try is to let calls from your clients go to voicemail after 5pm or 6pm. If it’s truly something important, you can call them back immediately. But if it isn’t, you can call them back the next day, during working hours. It sends the subtle message that you have a life, too, and that there are boundaries that need to be observed.
The second reason for avoiding those panicked non-emergencies is that they will take your eye off the ball. You can end up spending most of your time doing someone else’s bidding, not the important (planned) things on your to-do list, or the projects that are on deadline, or even REAL emergencies. In other words, sometimes we let other people’s agendas, poor time management, poor planning, and procrastination, take priority and control over our workday goals. And that’s not good.
Yes, plans rarely go exactly as planned, especially on interior design projects. But save your energy, your time, and your stress for real emergencies. For your own health, don’t let those faux panics wind you up, too. And be sure that the actual priorities on your to-do list get the attention they deserve. Sometimes, the squeaky wheel shouldn’t get the grease.