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The principle of the matter…


The biggest place you can go wrong in the legal world is to take action based on “the principle”. That reason alone is not sufficient, and will not really move you towards a successful resolution. A business partner of ours recently was “wronged” by an investment firm; there was a series of failures by several employees of the firm resulting in “potential” loss of tens-of-thousands of dollars. He wanted to take action, and he wasn’t particularly interested in a monetary resolution. He wanted to get them, effectively, “in trouble” — because of the “principle” of them matter.

The reality of the issue, if you’ve ever been on the other end of this situation, is what the person wants isn’t defined, nor is there any clear path to resolution. And until you can bring this person to a quantifiable expectation or demand, further action is almost useless. Certainly you want to provide excellent customer service and deescalate the situation. But after that, when it comes down to actually fixing the problem – you need to know what they expect to be done. Otherwise, to take action will only result in your chasing your own tail.

What most customers want is for whatever happened to never happen again. They want to be the whistle-blower and get the problem to end, to sacrificially prevent other people from being harmed. However, experience has shown two things: (1) You cannot prevent it from happening again; you can hold meetings, implement safeguards, but you cannot prevent it; (2) the actions of #1 will not make them feel better, they’ll still be unhappy — so the problem customer really hasn’t been satisfied. Which has taught me that they really aren’t just the sacrificial lamb they think they are. We all would love to be the hero, thought of sacrificing ourselves for other — but more often then not, it’s simply good sounding rhetoric.

So how to we resolve this situation. First we help walk them through discovering what would satisfy them – to react without knowing this will waist time. Help them narrow down to specific actionable items: you can provide a discount, refund money, perform services for free, have employee reviews or even employee disciplinary action. You also need to know what you cannot do: make sure this doesn’t happen again.

 

I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world. ~ Oscar Wilde

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  1. Jul 25, 2012 at 17:50

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