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Simple Consulting Solution to a Complicated Problem

By Michael Zipursky

I was out for a business lunch at a local restaurant.

They have great food and are known for their service and attentiveness to customers.

This time however, something happened that reminded me of a mistake many business owners make.

Most things are meant to be kept simple and humans have a habit of feeling that more is better – when the opposite is usually the case.

We ordered our food and when it arrived we asked to have some hot sauce.

“Sure, I’ll get that for you right away” said the waiter.

Two minutes went by and no hot sauce.

When someone asks for a condiment like hot sauce once their food arrives, they want it right away so they can add it to the food in front of them and start enjoying it.

Still waiting for our hot sauce I got the attention of a waitress and asked her for some hot sauce. She said, “Right away”. But then we noticed that she went over to her POS system and entered in that we wanted hot sauce.

Then a few minutes later she appeared with some hot sauce in a small stainless steel cup on top of a wooden plank.

All we wanted was a bit of hot sauce for our food. Instead, we waited several minutes and got a large plank of wood with a bit of hot sauce on it.

This is a classic example of a business owner over-complicating things.

What should have happened from the customer’s perspective (and that’s what counts) is for the waiter to walk to the kitchen or counter where they keep their Tabasco or hot sauce, and bring it over.

If a client is ready to buy from you and wants a proposal, are you turning it around and delivering it to them within 24hrs? Or are you taking days to get it to them?

Is your goal to land more clients? If so, are you taking months to create all kinds of materials and trying hit or miss marketing tactics, or are you focusing your energy going straight to where your ideal clients are?

Most things are meant to be kept simple and humans have a habit of feeling that more is better – when the opposite is usually the case.

What are your thoughts?

25 thoughts on “Simple Consulting Solution to a Complicated Problem

  1. Good example of over-complicating something. There is, as here, a better way – even if they do still need to have a record of what people actually want so that they can track stock and improve future service…

  2. Dean Thomson says:

    Excellent post – In the business world, over complicating things is a nice way of avoidance or procrastination.

  3. Terry says:

    Uncomplicated Solution: Set a written turn-around time/date to get the customer their proposal or hot-sauce.
    Just an observation though; often the customer’s viewpoint over complicates the issue and sets the stage for frustration for him/herself. The customer is not exempt in responsibility. You want it when? Ask for a turn-around time, and get up and go get your hot-sauce if you see the server is not getting it now. Remember that next time you’re a customer and simply reflect your viewpoint in the tip you leave on the table or the repeat (if any) of your patronage.
    Because this dynamic simply exists; the best service providers in any industry “get the jump” on the issue with the customer by providing what the customer needs to make a decision before the customer has to ask. Be wise, be on top of it, your customer will love you for it. Because let’s face it; some customers get lazy or just want to be. A good service provider should never be. Stay energized by seeing ahead and avoiding what can be frustrating pitfalls for both customer & service provider.
    Didn’t mean to rant; just wanted to share a thought. 😀

    • Terry – “Set a written turn-around time/date to get the customer their proposal or hot-sauce. ” made me smile, thanks 🙂

  4. LaShunda Campbell says:

    Well written article.

  5. Marie-Louise Symons says:

    i think simple solution orientation is becoming even more important in a 24/7, bite-sized attention span environment. solutions need to be simple to cut through and grab the busy customer’s attention. start simple; deliver and then build on it …

  6. Bimbola Edwards says:

    This rings so true! We lost the opportunity of converting a large prospect to a client the other day because we wanted his proposal to be perfect. He made his decision just a few hours before we reverted to him.

  7. ajefford says:

    anticipation with condiments on the tables even simpler, no wait, time cost saving, no problem in the beginning

    • Good point. At this restaurant not everyone would want hot sauce though… 🙂

      • ajefford says:

        You think? Perhaps if it is on the table ..The Customer might try it and find they like it and that then is the key draw to have them return and be a repeat customer. Their word of mouth will make your restaurant a growing success

  8. Marvin Greenberg says:

    In the restaurant business it’s all small stuff!

      • ajefford says:

        Yes! but it is the unique extra small things of enjoyment that are the turn key for restaurant growing success

  9. Humberto González Lara says:

    The beauty of simplicity. Why complication have reached unthinkable levels? Educational systems may be one track. When we lose the “common sense”, unfortunately the less of senses, things tends to be complicated. So, let’s go forward, together, to co create new ways to open different paths, could be a good attempt. Thanks John.

  10. pramod thalla says:

    Very good example of how we complicate the things in the garb of following system or procedures of the company. What matters is how much focused we are on the bottom line – customers, customer satisfaction, customer service. Instead of this, we talk about or do something else.

  11. Too often consultants – and others – see additional activity as added value. But often the wooden plank and the boiler-plated proposal are cold plating that do not create value for the customer.

  12. Chellappa says:

    Any consulting proposal more than one page will only confuse the client. One should master the art of giving short & crisp presentations.

  13. John Foster - CEO at NOCTI says:

    So many people and businesses think, “The more, the better.” Unfortunately, it is often not the case. Simplicity is key. If you do the necessary things correct and simple, everything will be much easier and more efficient.

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