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The Best Decisions Are Made When You Already Know the Answer

Posted In Customer Service, Operations, Problem Solving, Process & Procedures ON October 7, 2019

I love the mountains. I’ve been exploring trails and peaks in the Pacific Northwest since I was a kid.

Last week I went hiking in the North Cascades with a friend. There had been an unseasonably early snow and the temperatures were still hovering around freezing. But the sky was clear and the scenery gorgeous.

As my friend and I descended the trail, we ran into a couple needing help. The woman had slipped on the trail, broke her leg, and was unable to walk out. What followed was a series of decisions that eventually led to a rescue and a happy ending. 

But trying to make the best decisions with limited information as daylight faded and the temperatures dropped was extremely stressful!

Do we activate the personal locator beacon and wait for help, or send runners who can explain the situation in detail? 

Do we try to carry her down the rocky, icy trail or wait for search and rescue at our current location, even if it means possibly waiting overnight in a snowy basin at 5,400’ with a minimum of gear and clothes? 

These were tough decisions, let me tell you. 

I would have given anything to be able to phone a search and rescue friend who knew the answers and who would have told me what to do.

Fortunately, my friend and I are trained in mountaineering first aid and I have assisted with other evacuations. Drawing on our knowledge and past experience we made decisions that proved right in the end. 

Thankfully, running a business seldom involves such serious situations! However, making the wrong decisions can be costly.

Consider the business cost when a poorly handled customer service complaint becomes a highly negative social media review. 

Or, consider the loss of time and money while staff stand around trying to figure out what to do because the person who usually does that task is out on vacation or has recently left the company.

And, consider the stress that staff experience when they try to come up with the right answer on their own, fearing the consequences if they get it wrong.

When expectations are clear and the processes are spelled out, there is less stress, less cost in time and effort spent making a decision, and less chance of making the wrong decision. 

This is why documenting how you want your business to run day-to-day is a good idea. With clear directions and the right answers readily available, you and your staff will do the work correctly and with confidence.

Join me October 17th at 6pm in Arlington, WA, where I will talk more about the benefits of documenting your business and how to get started.