When your business is customer service, inconveniencing your clients is basically a cardinal sin. So when I had to cancel client appointments not once, but twice in the same week, I wasn’t sure how to absolve my customer service sins.
The Medical Emergency
The first day I had to cancel appointments was due to a medical emergency. What was supposed to be a simple outpatient procedure got a bit complicated. My husband wound up spending 4 days in the hospital. He came home with 30 staples and an eight inch scar as souvenirs of that adventure. He is recovering well now, but it was a bit scary in the moment. My clients were amazingly supportive and understanding.
The Delivery Gone Wrong
The second occasion I had to cancel appointments was due to a large delivery truck that got stuck in the snow and ice, blocking the road out of my rural neighborhood. The truck was trying to make an early morning delivery, but lost traction and started to slide on the hill. It took multiple tow trucks and the better part of the day to get the truck safely removed from its precarious position on a narrow, hilly road.
As I began calling my clients to let them know I wasn’t able to make it to the office, I was angry. I couldn’t believe that I was going to have to inconvenience my clients because a stupid truck got stuck. What was that delivery driver thinking, trying to come up these rural roads after a snow storm? What dispatcher sent the truck this way when there is a more direct route? Although I was angry, my clients were understanding.
A Change In Perspective
It wasn’t until I started thinking about how this situation was impacting others that I began to have patience. With the recent snow storm, this was probably the first day that the store was able to make deliveries. The driver was probably getting an early start to make up for deliveries which were canceled due to the storm. As for the route, how many times has my map app sent me on a wild ride because it didn’t have the latest road updates (mine still doesn’t know Veteran’s Parkway exists).
Then I started thinking about the customers who were waiting for their deliveries. At 7:30 am, I’m guessing the truck got stuck making its first delivery of the day. There must have been 8-10 deliveries scheduled that day that were now delayed again. How many of those customers had taken a day off from work to be home for their delivery? Next I started thinking about the store manager who was having to explain to angry customers why their delivery wasn’t going happen that day. Knowing how it makes me feel to inconvenience my clients, I could only imagine the anguish that store manager must have felt giving bad news. Not to mention the concern for the safety of the driver and the contents of the truck.
It was then that I began to have compassion. My impatience gave way to understanding. I can only hope that store manager had clients who accepted the news with the same grace and understanding that my clients did.
When I get impatient, my husband will say, “Your East Coast is showing.” My self improvement challenge in times of impatience and inconvenience is to take a moment to think instead of react, and to broaden my perspective beyond myself. Patience takes practice, and thoughtfulness.