Valentine’s Day is coming. Yup, right around the corner; and as all of us at 1-800-Flowers.com head into one of our busiest holidays, I think it’s a good time to talk about rush jobs. When things get busy--I mean really busy, crazy busy, busy as a florist on Valentine’s Day--there’s an obvious tendency to rush.

Rushing can be good. Indeed, in a fast-moving economy, the ability to be speedy is essential. 

But rush should not be your only speed. Sometimes, for some things, it pays to slow down. Think about it: When was the last time anyone told you to slow down? I mean, besides that cop in your rearview mirror. Well, I’m telling you now, there are times to take your foot off the gas and your finger off the Send button. For instance: 

When you’re talking to a customer

Though many telephone salespeople are asked to rush through a sales script, we ask our reps to slow down and listen. Go ahead, talk. Just talk and listen. Conversation is part of what makes a great sale. I understand all the arguments for efficiency, and a lot of them are excellent. I’m always searching for smart and streamlined solutions. We all are. But sometimes, when you’re making a sale, you want your rep to be thinking about delighting the customer, not beating the clock: Forrester Research listed recently "empowering agents for quality service" as one of its top customer service trends. The customer would rather have a good experience than an extra 45 seconds in her day. Wouldn’t you? 

When you’re giving advice

This month, in addition to all the excitement around Valentine holiday preparations, I am excited about my new book, Talk Is (Not!) Cheap: The Art of Conversation Leadership. It’s a collection of my best advice around the art and profitability of conversation. Why write a book instead of a blog? Why publish instead of tweet? Because sometimes, you have to slow down and think about something in a little bit deeper way in order to learn and benefit from it. Not every bit of information should travel at the speed of a teenager’s text conversation. 

When family is involved

Many of my family members are involved in our business. This makes family gatherings on days such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s Day pretty much impossible. Sometimes, we simply schedule the family gathering for the week after the holiday, when we can slow down and take the time to reconnect with each other. Some things should not be rushed, so do what you have to do. 

When your customer tells you to

Business is starting to notice the power of slow. A QSR magazine study found fast-food drive throughs are backing away from their need for speed and instead are doubling down on order accuracy, better customer service, and technology upgrades. That’s because slowness may not be business’s biggest problem. A study by RightNow found 55 percent of customers who abandoned a brand did so because service was slow (that’s bad), but 73 percent abandoned a brand because of rude or incompetent staff (that’s worse). Even when it comes to online customer service, speed is not always the customer’s top priority. The RightNow study found 66 percent of customers prefer to use email for customer support. Only 12 percent prefer live chat, even though chat is obviously a faster option. 

So when you’re rushing--as I am now until February 15--it pays to remember: Faster isn’t always better. Sometimes, the customer would be even happier with the outcome if you slowed down a bit, had a real conversation, and took the time to get everything right.