executives

Reputation Management: Teaching Your Customers Why They Can't Trust You (or why the New York Times are liars)

Customers are an interesting bunch. You just never know what's going to make them think a certain way about your product or service.

Take the New York Times, for example.

Like every other media outlet, they've had their problems with content in the past, but it's pretty safe to say that they're one of the most trusted newspaper/media outlets. Possibly in the world.

But if their business practices are not as robust as their reporting, why should we trust them?

The short answer is: We shouldn't.

Why?

Because they, themselves, have given us reason not to.

Here's the little story that's the basis of this big lesson in reputation management.

At the beginning of this month, I decided to cancel my online subscription to nytimes.com.

They had taken my payment on a Saturday. I called two days later - first thing Monday morning - explained that I hadn't known that their offices were open on weekends until hearing their greeting message on that particular call, but hoped that they would give me the refund anyway.

I was assured by their Customer Service Representative that a refund would be paid to me. I was also told that it takes 10 to 15 business days for the payment to arrive.

Frankly, while I thought that was a horrible refund policy for customer service purposes, I didn't give it any further thought.

Very quickly I received an email confirming that my subscription was cancelled but never received any confirmation of a refund. Okay, I thought. That will come separately.

But it didn't. So I called again later that same week, spoke with a different Customer Service Representative, had them look at my account file, confirm that the subscription was cancelled and that a refund was on its way.

The very polite Representative told me that, yes, everything was in progress, the payment would be made and that I shouldn't expect an email regarding the refund as they wouldn't be generating one. The payment would simply land.

But it didn't. So, today, I called again (because it had become a hobby) - but this time was told that I wouldn't be given a refund and that, in fact, it was never requested nor processed.

Which makes the New York Times liars.

The thing that executives and managers rarely put together - even though any sentient, thinking beings would - is that what happens in one part of an organization directly impacts the way the rest of the organization is viewed.

We're talking about $15. That's it. Fifteen dollars.

What's important about that number is that, clearly, it's not the amount of money that makes the difference. It's that TWO of their representatives told me the same lie - and that makes lying their policy.

Which makes the New York Times liars.

I've been assured that I'll be contacted by a Supervisor to further discuss my "issue" (their word).

We'll see. They're probably lying about that, too.

Mindfulness and Business: Coulda Woulda Shoulda

It's a week, now, since the beginning of this year - and, frankly, even a Martian who landed in the Western Hemisphere (and parts of the rest of the world, too) would know it must be the New Year simply based on the number of advertisements for weight-loss and exercise that now riddle every form of media we have.

It's time to lose weight.
It's time to exercise.
It's time to lose weight and exercise.

And, oh, by the way, they say, you've probably already lost sight of those New Year's Resolutions you made...to lose weight and exercise...and we have the answer!

No, they don't. But you do.

And, just so you know, it's not about the resolutions. It's about being mindful about what you're doing as you're doing it.

I'm going to be talking a lot about mindfulness in this blog with the help of my friend and yours, Dr. Leon Lessinger. The Leadership Quantified Experts will be writing about it from their perspectives, too. Because it's time that we all bring a new level of presence and consciousness to the decisions we're making and the actions we're taking. (BTW, the weight loss and exercise industries are hoping you do exactly the opposite. That's the only way their business model succeeds.)

Okay. So. Mindfulness. Sounds good - or not. Sounds woo-woo - or not. What it is - always - is practical. So, let's start with how to identify the indicators that you've not been mindful in the past. (Because that's going to change now.)

Think back over the past 6-18 months and identify all the "Coulda Woulda Shoulda" experiences you had. These are the ones where, after the fact (no matter how short or long a time period) you say to yourself:
  • We could have done that after all, or
  • We should have done this instead, or
  • We would have done that, but....
Any or all of those - individually or in any combination - are your indicators that you were not being fully present when making the decision you made...particularly when, even as you're making the decision, you know you coulda/shoulda/woulda gone the other way. But you didn't.

Over my years working with executives around the world and in different languages, the two most common versions sounded like this (usually in a 2 am phone call):
"Leslie, you're not going to like what I did, but..."
or
"Leslie, you were absolutely right. I should have..."
In both cases, the origin was the same - they knew they were not making the optimal decision even as they were making it. The only difference between the two was when we talked about it (i.e., immediately or long after the associated actions were taken).

Which brings us to an important point: Regrets are not the same as mindfulness.

Regrets occur after the fact. Mindfulness occurs in real-time. In the present. As you're making the decisions you need to make.

That's why doing a Coulda/Woulda/Shoulda Retrospective Analysis is so important. What you're trying to figure out are the situations that lead you to make decisions that you later regret.

That way, you've got the best insider information possible. You know your habits and trends. You also know the habits, trends...and fears...of your team that lead to the after-the-fact regrets expressed.

So, starting now - because you're being mindful and present - look at the decisions you're making...both small and large...and, before finalizing them and either taking or assigning action, identify whether there are any Coulda/Shoulda/Wouldas that you know will arise later. (You may not want to admit it - but you know them. Now.)

Then, take the actions necessary. You'll find that your own and your business's productivity and success accelerate faster than you could ever have imagined.