One of the hardest conversations to make clear in service organizations is how to differentiate between average responses and special one-offs. It’s based on the core idea that “to make something for everyone is to make something for no one.” Mastering this logic allows us to go from constantly putting fires out to intentionally putting fires under our tuchuses.
If all we do is respond the same way every time, we’ll be the credit card company who sends the replacement cards out in 7-10 days, even when a client needs it before their trip next week (don’t get me started on this one).
Conversely, if all we do is respond with a fire drill to every request, we’ll be so burned out and stressed before long we’ll forget not every request is an emergency, and sometimes it’s OK to let fires burn.
When we talk to our teams, we want to be clear about which situations are exceptions and which are rules. The 7-10 day policy allows for the efficient printing and distribution of replacement cards.
But if getting a client their card in less than 5 days keeps them a client for life, having an exception process to bump their printing and shipping to the front of the line is critical.
When exceptions and rules work well together, they balance the long-term priorities of the organization. When they fail, it’s because someone has failed to make the proper distinction AND balance between one and the other.