We all want our product to be perfect. So much so that we slave away at developing the concept, put endless hours into operationalizing it, invest heavily in communicating it internally, and promote the finished result through various marketing channels. Since a high level of loyalty is what we are all striving to achieve, we want every experience to be perfect to ensure our guests return time and time again.
Is there such a thing as the perfect relationship? Try as we might, problems will always arise. We are in the business of working with humans and dealing with humans, and that means that things can and will go wrong. It’s an inevitable part of what we do, and an unavoidable challenge.
Unfortunately, there is no formula to ensure problems will not occur or to magically make them disappear. The key to success lies in how we deal with the problem. The magic happens when everyone in the organization considers a problem as an opportunity and rather than hoping it will go away they take personal responsibility to resolve it.
Someone once said to me, “relationships don’t just happen! You have to work hard at establishing a solid relationship that can endure the bumps along the way.” The advice has stayed with me because it is true that meaningful relationships are established upon a foundation of trust. This is also correct for the relationships we build within our business, both internal and external.
The result of a solid relationship is loyalty, and when we talk about guest loyalty, it results in returns and recommendations.
Following many discussions with clients and participants in various guest experience programs, I’ve learned that when asked for great examples of customer service, the majority of reasons for their choice of brand or company stem from positive problem resolution.
I am sure we have all experienced that black hole of silence when we report a problem or issue and that becomes even more frustrating than the problem itself. Chances are that it stands out because many of the problems we encounter aren’t handled as well as they should be, so moments when we have been very impressed or incredibly disappointed form our impression of that particular company or brand.
Time and time again we have seen proof that it is how each person deals with a situation that determines the success (or downfall) of that relationship. What is that saying – “We are as strong as our weakest link!” Everything may be wonderful, and then one small (or big) issue occurs that is not resolved immediately or effectively, and the rest is history.
In order to establish a culture where your team members feel confident in effectively resolving problems, it is important to have a solid framework in place so that team members at all levels can quickly follow an easy-to-understand, established process that helps guests and employees feel comfortable in reporting and dealing with problems. As well, there should be a feedback mechanism where the person reporting the problem knows what is happening to resolve it. A solid framework that turns problems into opportunities should be at the core of your internal culture.
It all comes down to making sure your team feel fully empowered to be the solution within the organization, and to enjoy turning problems into opportunities.
Some key components for successful problem resolution
- Make it easy for customers to provide feedback.
- Train and provide ongoing reinforcement for team members to understand their role and the significance of effective problem resolution.
- Track and regularly review reoccurring problems, always focusing on fixing the root cause rather than a temporary solution.
- Keep the team updated on problem resolution and feedback from customers. Improvements and red flags should be communicated.
- Leaders and managers walk the talk: How you resolve issues with your team is a role model for your team.
- Ensure your internal culture incorporates the welcoming of honest feedback and the understanding that the way problems are resolved or not can impact the company’s loyalty and success.
With a simple framework and consistent reinforcement by leaders and managers who walk the talk, the “not my problem” syndrome that so often exists can be replaced with a common mindset where people are not afraid to take on resolving any problem.
Effective problem resolution is “not a nice to have” but critical to success. It must not be a tick-the-box training program but a properly structured framework, which is at the heart of way things are done!
No fairy dust will make the problems magically disappear. Welcome your problems as opportunities, and those opportunities will help to increase loyalty and success for your company.