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Their Fault, Your Problem

January 16, 2023 BY The Siren Of Support Leave a comment

Sometimes bad stuff happens. Maybe it’s an unexpected delay or an unavoidable accident. Perhaps it’s simply just a glitch in the system, or an unforeseen detour. 

Things happen that may not be in your control. Regardless of any amount of preparation or planning. No matter how many times you have taken that route, or ordered from that vendor. 

Every now and then SH!T happens. 

It may not be your fault, but it is your problem. Your reaction and recovery from the mishap is 100% in your control. Do you choose to wallow? Play the blame game? Sit in a corner and cry? Or do you accept the unchangeable, make the most of the hand that was dealt, and start the process of getting back on track? 

This past weekend I went out to dinner. The reservations were made, we were on time. The restaurant was packed. We waited an extra fifteen minutes to be seated. The waitress arrived promptly with water and to take the drink order. After only a short delay she returned, took our orders and went to put them in. Twenty minutes passed and she returned, apologizing profusely that it was taking so long. There was a large party and the kitchen was backed up. It shouldn't be much longer though. I was in no hurry and advised her as such. At the thirty-five minute mark, she arrived at our table without our plates. However she did have a replacement set of drinks and a promise that it would only be another five minutes. Ten minutes later the delishness was placed on the table. It was worth the wait. She apologized yet again. Remained attentive during the meal and even with the overwhelming crowd managed to squeeze in some small talk and make us feel welcome and appreciated. 

It wasn’t her fault, but it was her problem.  

Most of us work in teams that depend on other internal and/or external partners to get the job done. When they fall short or fail to meet expectations it is not just that crew that is impacted. It creates a snowball effect that usually lands at your customers feet. 

How can you shield your customers from the issues that arise? What can your team members do to successfully recover from a dilemma that was out of their control? 

Acknowledge the Issue: Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. It will only make your customer feel as if you are hiding something bigger. Be clear and honest. Provide as much information to make the customer feel secure, but be cautious to not overshare. 

Focus on a Solution: No customer wants to hear an excuse. They want to hear what you are going to do to make the situation right. Wrong parts showed up from the supplier? Let the customer know you are having the correct ones sent overnight. Job not done because half your techs ate bad meat from the food truck? Advise that their vehicle is top priority and you are doing everything you can to get it done without more delay. The person at your counter or on your line doesn't care WHY something is or isn’t happening, they only want to know that you are taking care of it. 

Do NOT Play the Blame Game: The supplier, the food truck, the kitchen staff, the “who” is not important, the “what comes next” is all that matters. Shifting blame makes you lose accountability. Own the problem regardless of fault. Take the opportunity to be the hero. Any performance corrections should be done outside of the customers viewing and hearing area.

Ensure Satisfaction: Keep the customer in the loop on progress. When customers don’t know something they will assume the worst. Once the issue has been resolved, follow back up to confirm the customer is happy with the service, not just happy that it’s over. 

Be aware, be present, and be willing to take the slack for a problem that wasn’t your fault. 

The satisfaction is within the solution.

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