By Jeff Fortney
Now, with the clarity of hindsight, we can see that the changes that occurred were not with a capital "C". We did not see an overhaul of the industry that required us to completely alter how we operate if we wish to survive. Yet, as with every year since I started in the business, there was transformation. And it impacted many.
Now, as 2018 draws to a close, we all need to plan for 2019. And this starts by examining what those who handled change well did to succeed this year.
The difference between celebration and disappointment was not necessarily determined by how or what the winners changed. It wasn't found solely in the changes they made (some changes, in hindsight, were either unnecessary or only provided short term relief). Still, there was a clear difference between those who succeeded and those who did not.
I had been struggling to clearly define that difference until recently experiencing two distinctly different customer support calls that were not connected with the payment industry. These experiences made it clear to me that to succeed with change requires you move with urgency, a sense of purpose, and a commitment to the change.
In the first call, I phoned customer support representatives about a product needing repair. The representative was professional but responded in a monotone. When he paused to look up the answer (which was obviously what was happening) he said nothing (leaving dead air, making me wonder if I was disconnected.) Finally, he provided a scripted response. His instructions did work (thankfully). He closed the call by "thanking me for calling" in that same monotone. The call took 30 minutes.
The second example may rate as the best experience I've had on a support call. I had ordered a cabinet and found it was short one small piece of metal. The deficit wasn't critical, but it did keep the door from staying shut. I called the support line provided, expecting a similar experience as the previous call. I was wrong.
The call was answered by a person who sounded interested and willing to help, even before knowing the situation. As I explained my need, her tone changed into one of concern. She was genuine when saying, "So sorry. I know this is can be so frustrating." She immediately said she would make it right and post a credit immediately. She even suggested I could possibly get the piece from a local hardware store, but she said she would get the part out as well. After I thanked her, she again apologized and asked if there was anything else she could do to help. She made me feel like I was important even though the call was about a very small piece. The total time of the call was 10 minutes.
Neither call was about a significant issue. The first rep did his job to the letter, but created no connection and followed the script. The second built a rapport, showed empathy and solved the problem as quickly as possible. She demonstrated that I was important and, as a result, left an indelibly positive impression.
ISOs that succeeded this year acted with the second reps sense of urgency and purpose. They understood that they had to make changes ‒ and quickly. They also understood how to determine if the change was necessary and how they would execute that change. It involved four basic steps.
The ISOs made each of these determinations in hours, not days. They knew their future depended on moving quickly.They acted with urgency. Oh, and I got the part delivered overnight. The company acted with urgency and with a purpose ‒ and now has a customer for life.
Jeff Fortney is senior vice president of business development and partnerships for TouchSuite LLC, a fintech company providing POS systems, payment processing, SEO solutions, working capital and marketing services to small and midsize businesses. A long-time payments industry professional and mentor, Jeff focuses on strengthening and developing corporate partnerships and evaluating new business to drive strategic growth. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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