There Are No Do-Overs In Business
Most of us played organized sports at some point in our lives. We fondly remember the do-over "rule" - you get to do it over again for a long list of reasons: "I didn't know", "try it again" etc. Do-overs were also a way to avoid confrontation or worse, a fight. Later on, do-overs became "teaching moments" - do it again but do it right. Interestingly, as we moved to higher-level competition (school teams or "travel teams"), do-overs mysteriously disappeared. I wonder Why? I watched a similar process during my kids' formal education. Teachers were quick to offer "an extra credit" when a student did not do well on a test (the extra credit was not quite a do-over but "do more" to get a better grade), or a "do-over" on essays that were not up to par and afforded the opportunity to improve a grade. Clearly, not a real-life solution where do-overs simply don't exist.
Welcome to the harsh reality of "do-what"?, are you kidding me? Business do-overs are as rare as the "Easy-Button" unless you spend money buying one. Let's not confuse behaviors like the "Netflix retraction of subscription fees" as a do-over. Do-Overs do not exist in the business world. The Netflix response to an overwhelming backlash against its new policy was a do-or-die reaction. The number of Netflix cancellations was a loud and clear signal that said "bad decision, we're outta here".
We are clearly in a Buyer's Market era. When was the last time you signed a petition in the train station? All aspects of your business are transparent and customers are less forgiving today that they ever were. Why? It feels great to have the power to choose and inform.
We don't get to make bad decisions, say "oops", and ask for extra credit to improve our grade. We also don't get to say "but I didn't mean that" either. How long does it take the average person to send a highly critical email about your service to everyone they know? And how long before those emails are forwarded to the rest of the world? Right, seconds.
Many businesses still operate with a "let's see what I can get away with" philosophy. This is especially true when it comes to pricing strategies (well, ok, this type of pricing isn't a strategy). "Let's start with a high price and if a customer doesn't like it, they'll tell us so we can lower it a bit". This is so 19th century but sadly too common. Or, let's create "value" by bundling useless stuff that costs us nothing and include small print that eliminates any chance of returns". Yeh right. How's that working for you?
If you insist on living in the world of "do-over" you may realize a short-term gain but experience a long-term loss. The internet has transformed everyone into smart buyers. I have heard business owners refer to customers as idiots on many occasions. But, that's over now. Everyone is an educated consumer - "stupidity" went out of style when we stopped using modems.
So what is the solution to "do-over"? It's "do-it-right" - literally. If you want me to buy your product or service, then deliver the best value you can, knowing that if you don't, I'm gone, I'm telling my friends and I'm never coming back.
"But we can't satisfy everyone" you say. True, but it should not stop you from trying. You see, the do-overs are greedy and like to cut corners to maximize profits. But, customers have an intuitive sense and know when they're getting ripped off. Worse, they'll tell their friends about it. You will undoubtedly disappoint some customers. You can't win them all. But if you approach your business from a "there are no "do-overs" , you'll do just fine.
In the words of Seth Godin:
The shortcut that's sure to work, every time:
Take the long way.
Do the hard work, consistently and with generosity and transparency.
And then you won't waste time doing it over.