A friend sent me an email recently asking for some information. His request was simple. It was the name and contact information for a vendor that he knows we use. His email arrived in my inbox at 4:50 PM. I replied to him with the information he needed at 5:00 PM. We each exchanged the usual greetings and well wishes in addition to the real point of the emails, but what got my attention and made me decide to write this blog post was a comment he made in his email thanking me for the information, “…and with all you do I cannot believe how responsive you are!” Why should it be surprising that I responded quickly to answer a simple question? What does that say about the level of our expectations of each other in today’s busy and fast paced business environment? I fear that our expectations of good service, and even of simple courtesy, have been greatly diminished by too many examples of poor service and inconsiderate behavior in our daily lives.
I have a couple of thoughts about the whole issue of how we should serve our clients and customers, and how we should treat each other. First, it should not be surprising that I could be so responsive, even though I am the President of a very busy association management company. Indeed, the reason we have such a successful and busy AMC is because we are all very responsive here in this office. It is so much easier to do it now instead of later. One of my favorite quotes is by a football coach, Steve Mariucci, who once said, “I never wear a watch, because I always know it’s now --- and now is when you should do it.” That same attitude has won many loyal friends for us at PMG over the years. And, this is not something that you need an MBA to know. I learned in Sunday school when I was a child that the book of Proverbs says, “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.” (Proverbs 3:28, NIV). Being helpful to others is just being a good person. It’s as simple as that.
My other thought about this service to others issue arose from this same email conversation. My friend was asking about a vendor for association management software. AMS systems have become a common topic for conversations about “which one do we hate the most” among association executives. Another friend of mine is a consultant in the AMS field, and she told me once that if you are happy with 80 percent of what your AMS system does then you should consider yourself lucky. Don’t shop for another. It will likely be worse. That level of expectation amazes me. I cannot imagine being content if your customer is happy only 80 percent of the time. If I thought that were true about our clients I would not be able to sleep until we had done something to fix the other 20 percent.
Even though this blog post may sound too self-congratulatory, I don’t mean it that way at all. I am simply surprised that what I consider to be kindergarten level, basic rules of life are so often seen by others as so unusual. I guess that common sense is not really that common.