The Consultant’s Curse (2)

by Guest Blogger Michael Harrison

I Can Hear You, Too

Occasionally I get stuck sitting in a waiting area until my appointment is free to talk. (Already a sign of poor scheduling.) However, this usually gives me a chance to listen in on the receptionist and how phone calls are handled within the company.

We ALL hate automated phone menus (Press 3 to place an order). However, as consumers or clients, we do like it when a human answers the phone and directs our query to the right person.

If the receptionist lacks enthusiasm, or doesn’t offer to help the caller, I cringe. That customer may not know with whom he needs to talk. The receptionist should know how to direct any call to the right employee.

If I’m in a small office, I can sometimes hear office chatter coming from a nearby work station. I’ve heard voices raised while waiting to meet with the company’s CEO, and shouting is not conducive to making a good impression on clients sitting in the waiting area with me. I smile at the others waiting for their appointments, pretending to ignore the “discussion” taking place right over there. We all hear you and the staff.

I look up

A cleaning crew may keep your office or restaurant clean in common areas so I don’t spend too much time running my finger over the coffee table for signs of dust.

I look up at the ceiling for an air vent. It’s amazing how often the building and grounds look great but the heating vent is filthy. Don’t think I notice? Don’t think clients notice? We do, and we are not impressed.

The Consultant’s Curse: It’s unavoidable 

After consulting for a few decades I rate everything. It’s ingrained in the neurons of any good strategist. We look for things that hurt your business. You don’t need a consultant to tell you what’s right with your business. You need us to tell you what’s wrong with the company and to provide ways to fix those problems.

It could be a simple, low-cost fix or a complete tear-down-and-start-over. Business owners hire strategists to juice the bottom line, to identify possible inefficiencies in the daily conduct of business, to determine how to improve Internet sales. I get calls from all kinds of businesses with all kinds of problems.

My advantage? I see the stained wall or the broken store sign. You miss them because you see them every day. When I telephone your office I’m locked into a phone tree unless I have the direct line. I don’t care how convenient this technology is, people want to talk to people with the know-how and authority to deliver customer satisfaction.

Because I view your business for the first time I see the small stuff. No alarm system? Insurable risk. Lack of server protection? The perfect target for a hacker. A dirty air vent? Update the cleaning crew.

Sweat the small stuff. It adds up to the big stuff – like long-term business success.

What I call the consultant’s curse may drive my poor wife crazy, but hiring an outsider to come in to fix what’s broken in your business is often the only way to stay in business.

Why? We notice the little things – and little things mean a lot.

 

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