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Creating Fewer Decisions

October 25, 2015
Mary Jane Copps

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Pulling Puzzle Pieces

Decision fatique is one of the biggest challenges impacting communication today. It is estimated that adults make 35,000 decisions each day – which does sound ridiculous, but when we consider that each email we receive involves a decision as well as the clothes we wear, the food we eat, when we book appointments, etc. etc., it starts to make sense. And it follows that as each day progresses, making decisions – let alone making the right decisions – becomes more difficult.

Understanding and embracing this is key to our success in creating effective communication with our customers and prospects,  and delivering great service.

The word “service”  has Old French and Latin origins and in the 1200’s began to refer to “assistance, help, a helpful act”. Today, when we reduce the decisions we request of our customers, we are being more helpful – we are offering excellent service.

Here’s a example of what I mean:

While in Saint John, New Brunswick this past week and I stayed at the Delta Brunswick. It was a delightful experience; all of the staff were incredibly helpful and cheerful, making it a “go to ” hotel for me.

I checked in after delivering a full day of training, so I was definitely in that “tired and hungry” space. There was a lineup at the front desk and the buzz of impatience in the air. The staff handled it well and when my turn arrived, I experienced that wave of relief that comes when unpacking and good food are close at hand. Then came the question, common to most hotels: “Are you collecting reward points?”

If I was the ultra-organized person I’d like to be, I’d probably know how to answer this question, but given that sometimes I book my hotel, other times my clients do the booking, and sometimes I sign up for points, other times my credit card handles it, etc., etc. I really didn’t  know what to say.

So I stood at the desk trying to decide if I should dig through my wallet and look for the appropriate loyalty card, or come back and submit the details later, or submit the details online, or … .  In the end I responded with a weary “I have no idea.”

Isn’t this something hotels could handle on behalf of every customer?  One’s status for rewards should be right on the screen, attached to the name and email address. It definitely shouldn’t be part of check in, the moment when the majority of travellers are tired, hungry and desicion frazzled.

We can all find ways of decreasing our customers’ need to make decisions and, as a consequence, create an opportunity to deliver superior service. In the coming weeks, pay attention to the questions you ask the majority of  your customers. Are all of them necessary or can you gather and maintain that information in another way? And what about requests you receive from customers? Is there a way you can deliver that information before being asked?

Many years ago I realized that the majority of people who approached me for training needed a written proposal. Today I offer that proposal before it’s requested.  Those who don’t require it respond with  “A few points in an email is fine” or “No, I have what I need “, and those who do need a proposal … they don’t have to decide when and how to ask for one.

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