Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Unreasonable Demands


We all have those business owners/politicians/citizens in our community that are often times hard to deal with, or constantly have unreasonable demands.  If these were our customers in a private industry we could "fire" them, or refuse to offer them service. However, being public servants we do not have the luxury of choosing our customers.

Seth Godin, recently published a blog article addressing the unreasonable customer.  His insight to how and why to handle these people, proves valuable even to the fire service/fire prevention.

Reasons to tolerate the customer/citizen with unreasonable demands:

You promised you would - as employees in the fire service our main job description is that of public servant.  By taking this job, and choosing this career, we have promised to take care of and meet the needs of these citizens. It is our duty. It is our responsibility



She helps you raise your gamethe citizen with seemingly unreasonable demands, make us better, and causes our level of service to rise.  The customer that request something outside of our normal operations, or above and beyond our perceived capacity, stretches us.  In attempting to accomplish the unreasonable task we realize that it actually is possible, and sometimes this unreasonable task, becomes a new normal operating procedure.


Her word of mouth is very powerful - Perception is reality.  In these economic times (for every community), when the powers that be are looking for places to make cuts,  the unreasonable citizen is of a high value.  The negative perceptions of the fire department, can be quickly wahsed over by the positive word-of-mouth of the citizen whose unreasonable demand was met in a timely and excellent fashion.

There are, however, unreasonable customers that should not be tolerated.  We all have those contractors/business owners/citizens that constantly have the same issues, same demands, and time and time again we bend over backwards to help them, but they never quite get it.   These customers/citizens should be ones we spend less of our time being involved with.  Godin says, these customers prevent your employees from doing their best work in the long run,  their word of mouth can't be changed (or their word of mouth just doesn't matter),  and they distract us from delighting the reasonable customers.

In fire prevention we must consistently be going above and beyond for our custom
ers/citizens, even the ones with unreasonable demands.