We all care deeply about the experience our customers receive when they choose to spend their attention, time, or money with us…we earned their business over all other options!!
Nothing hurts more, than when we fail them in some regard.
Success is very much dependent upon the experience provided by your team, the more links in the chain, the more opportunity for two things:
- Sprinklings of *exemplary service* thereby genuinely impressing beyond expectations, or
- A shortcoming, failure, or missed opportunity
We love when #1 happens, as that should be the norm, we are always striving to over-deliver for the sake of creating extra joy for our customers, which creates joy for us as well.
It’s when #2 happens that we want to take an ostrich-like pose and not face the client, knowing we failed to hold up our end of the agreement.
Your team will pay very close attention to you in the 2nd scenario. Partially, because they know you are going to be taking some heat, they are dying to see how you react when faced with criticism and scrutiny. And partially, because they know they played a part and are nervously awaiting the fallout.
My first encouragement, before anything, is to reframe the situation in your brain. Rather than thinking of it as a problem, and that you will ‘take care of it’…you must think of this as an opportunity. Approaching it from this perspective of opportunity vs. eating crow always helped me get up the necessary courage. Conversations owning up to failure can be a bitter pill to swallow and produce anxiety, therefore, the more positive energy and frame of mind on your side the better. You must change your anxiety to acceptance.
The truth? Opportunity…really? Yes, really.
There is still a chance to make this right on so many levels.
For your customer:
- Figure out how to bridge the gap from intended provided service to actual provided service (wow them now, by going above and beyond in making it right!).
- Having the conversation alone will often recalibrate the relationship and prevent any long-term damage when handled correctly. Most just want the agreement upheld, even if it’s after the experience, and will happily forgive and forge forward.
For your team:
First, always include a team lead for any difficult conversation, whether with a client, team member, vendor, etc. These conversations are literally your leadership in real-time, it contributes greatly to them learning this not-so-simple skill of conflict resolution (while cultivating leadership depth) when they feel, hear, and see you in action.
They will learn:
- How to handle a fail, from ownership to salvaging to impressing
- That lackluster service is unpleasant to deal with
- How compromising systems and those operations in place can cause setbacks, resulting in a stronger understanding of their purpose
- Why it hurt the client, with the reminder of the importance of trust
- How to regain trust by taking full responsibility, while committing to solving the shortcomings
Is it devastating to take it on the chin and admit you did not hold up your end of the agreement? No, it’s not devastating…not when handled in a way that allows for growth, forgiveness, movement forward, and gratitude for the experience. These isolated incidences of ‘opportunity’ will prove to be quite useful, not necessarily pleasant, but useful.