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Don't Get Burned: Documentation As Protection

June 11, 2024 BY The Siren Of Support Leave a comment

It’s the time of year in the midwest that we emerge from our winter hibernation at the first glimpse of warm sunshine. The air no longer hurts to breathe, the breeze doesn't feel like knives in your skin, and the chance of a debilitating snowstorm is slim. 

We are pale and vitamin D deficient. We yearn for the warm rays on our face. We are so overjoyed to feel summer upon us that wearing the proper protection slips our minds. It’s a little cloudy, it’s not that warm, it’s only a few hours… 

And then you end up like Maggie (Director of Sales and Service), a tomato red face, impending peeling, and the deep regret of forgetting the many layers of SPF 50. 

In the people industry, proper documentation is your sunscreen. Cover your ass, and your face, by protecting yourself with a layer of impenetrable truth and information. 

This past week we attempted to purchase a lawn mower directly from the manufacturer. The order appeared to have gone through, the card was charged, and we were told to wait for an email confirmation for a delivery estimate. The email never came even as the days passed by. By the fourth day of waiting, my very impatient other half called and sat on hold for forty-seven minutes and 12 seconds and never got the pleasure of speaking to a representative. He succumbed to the “Chat with us” feature. Here the rep confirmed the order, said they did not have an expected delivery date and advised him just to wait. He waited. And waited. And then returned to the chat a few days later. They had no record of the order. No documentation of the previous chat that confirmed the order. It's as if the entire interaction had never even happened. What seemed hours later, the company advised the order was canceled as they were out of stock and no longer manufacturing that model any longer. 

Just like Maggie, the mower manufacturer didn’t protect themselves. Maggie got burned, we got burned, and the company lost a bigger sale. 

What can you do to protect your business, the customers, and yourself from “I don’t knows”, and “We don’t have a record of thats”?

NOTES, NOTES, NOTES: Just as every venture to the softball field for Maggie should include a tub of sunscreen, every interaction should include documentation. Damage can be done quickly, but avoided if prepared. A customer called in to check status. Make a note. You called a customer to provide an order update. Make a note. Evidence that such interactions took place will protect you in the event that that information wasn’t passed along, or the customer simply misheard or forgot. Don’t leave yourself, or a co-worker red in the face, trying to rectify an issue that didn't have to be. 

More Isn’t Always Better: If one layer is good, one would think three is better. You will achieve the same level of protection by applying only the necessary amount. Memos lose their ability to provide quick and efficient updates when they are overfilled with fluff. If it doesn't matter, don’t write it down. If you don’t know if it matters, make note. Bullet points and short sentences help the next reader to comprehend the information you have noted, and allow them to share swiftly when called upon, while weeding out what may not be pertinent to the current interaction. 

Fine Print: The devil is in the details. SPF levels matter, as do who you spoke with, where they were calling from, and what they wanted. If your system does not timestamp the record, or you have a delay in entering the information, include a date and time. Concrete testaments must include the who, what, when, where and why. Keep it brief while ensuring the information that matters isn’t missing. 

As we approach our hottest, and busiest time of the year, protect yourself. The sun is a force to reckon with, just as a hot customer can be when you have no information. 

Don't get stuck inside nursing a burn, or de-escalating a situation that could have all been prevented with precaution, preparedness, and a paper trail.

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