It’s winter holidays time and just like most emigrants or expats, I came back home to spend Christmas with the family and friends. Living abroad means that there’s a lot of people I haven’t seen for a while, many things I want to do (refuel with delicious portuguese food), others I must do (take care of documentation). Time is short to do everything and spend quality time with everyone. Plus, this time of year, I still need to buy the last presents. So, I need to be as effective as possible, and maximise my time.
Holidays didn’t start well. My 8:45 PM flight from London was delayed for 1 hour and 30 mins, meaning that when I landed in Porto (Portugal) it was already 12:30 AM and by the time I got home the family was already asleep. To my tweet TAP Air Portugal replied “Please accept our sincere apologies for this situation“. Unfortunately this doesn’t make it up. Why? Because apologies are not sincere when TAP’s flights are consistently delayed, and the on-board experience is below average.
With so many things I wanted to do, despite the late night, next day’s morning was early. Me and my wife got a lot of things done (including her hair – she can be very picky with hairdressers!). Before lunch I found some time to schedule an important doctor’s appointment and called the clinic. “Sorry we’re closed between 12:00 and 2:00 PM, please call later or book online“. It was literally 12:01 and online I could not choose the doctor I wanted.
Lesson 2: As Shep Hyken says “don’t have a clock-in/clock-out mentality“. If you’re there, take ownership, as every interaction with a customer will make an impression. And it could be a lasting one (positive or negative). Don’t risk losing a customer to the competition because of what it says on the “Opening Hours” sign.
After lunch we had to take care of some last minute presents and went to a local shop. Spent a fair amount of time with a nice and attentive staff member, selecting the right product, and decided to take what were three expensive ones. At the till we were told “we don’t accept card payments, any card, only cash“. These are the local shops that have owners who complain about being smothered by big shopping malls. Then they sell expensive items and expect people to carry big amounts of cash!?
Lesson 3: If you want to be in business and overcome fearless competition, you need to get rid of policies that don’t make sense and make it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you. Plus, be mindful of bad profit (e.g. those who charge additional fee if you want to pay with card)
That evening, I decided to tick one of the boxes in my “when-at-home” list: eat roasted piglet. After a busy day it was 4:00 PM when we arrived to the restaurant. “Hello, do you have table for 4?” I asked with a smile on my face. “Lunch time has passed and dinning room is now closed until 7:00 PM” the grumpy person replied. “Kitchen is closed?!” I asked with puppy eyes. “No, it’s open but only for take away“. In desbelief I walked to the counter to take a piglet sandwich for the go – truth was smell is irresistible and the opportunities to eat this delicatessen are scarce. But next time I will certainly go to the competition.
Lesson 4: Customers are like your puppy. If you show him the snack, and let him smell it, only to then take it away, he won’t come back to you next time you call for him. So if you want to conquer (hearts, minds and mouths) of your customers always be available to give them the best you have, and don’t disappoint.
This hasn’t been the best intro to Christmas, but I’m confident all will end up well. Happy Christmas everyone!