In many endeavors, not knowing the answer is acceptable – it’s how we learn. It’s hard to know everything about a subject because things are evolving rapidly. That said, our aging in place clients – many of whom are in their golden years – don’t have the time or the patience for us to learn at their expense.
When we go shopping for a new computer or car, depending on how long it’s been since we last purchased one, we likely are going to learn quite a bit about features, performance standards, desirable attributes, and things to avoid in choosing our next one. How were supposed to know this in advance? We could do some online research to experience various opinions. then, we are going to need to talk with some knowledgeable salespeople or technicians before making up our minds about our selection.
Imagine going into a showroom and engaging someone who is representing that product and asking them some questions. Does it do this? Does it come with this? What is the difference between this model and that one? What if, their response to any of these questions was that they didn’t know?
They may not know the answer because things are changing very rapidly in technology, but this is their business so we would expect them to at least have an educated guess. They should know where to find the answer or volunteer on the spot to find it. We can accept that we threw them a curve with a question, but we cannot accept that they will let it go at that. We expect them to find the answer – and quickly. The response might be that the product does not do what we want it to do for us. They should know this or be able to determine it quickly.
In some endeavors, people are encouraged to “fake it until they make it” which means that they should be confident and act as if they are quite knowledgeable, even when they aren’t. We don’t have time for this charade, and our elderly clients don’t either. We have to up-to-speed before we ever take that first appointment. This doesn’t mean that we can’t take the time to learn our industry, but this must happen before we engage our first client.
Once we are serving the public, we need to be ready and able to offer the assistance they seek and expect. We may need to surround ourselves with more knowledgeable and experienced team members. This is one of the things teams are for – to support each other in the delivery of top-notch services to our clients. Of course, the more knowledgeable we are, the more we can help the team excel.
Being knowledgeable about the available products and potential solutions – and the needs of the clients we are attempting to serve – is not hard to learn, but we must be dedicated to accomplishing it. We have to dedicate ourselves to learning about this – by doing, by asking questions of people who know, by taking classes, by doing research, and being satisfied until we have obtained the additional knowledge we seek.
A great technique to encourage learning is to turn the tables by asking ourselves questions that we think our clients might ask us – because we think we would like to know this information if we were the ones having the work done. What product would we recommend for this condition or that one? How does this product compare to others on the market? Is there a lower priced option available? Are there comparable products from other companies that can be considered or selected? How has this solution worked for other people?
In order to answer these questions satisfactorily and confidently for our clients, we have to do it from experience. That comes from doing and from learning. We have to put in the time and invest the hours to become experts in our fields. We must anticipate questions our clients will ask and have answers ready for them. Advance preparation is quite important in order to have the necessary answers at the ready.
Nevertheless, we don’t have to be totally knowledgeable in fields outside our own. That’s why we have strategic partners that are selected by us for their knowledge, level of experience, and the contributions they can make to the overall effort. Together, we can serve our clients well. That’s why the team effort is so effective. We get to provide a collective effort for our clients and combine our knowledge and problem-solving abilities to create and implement a solution that will serve their needs well.