Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

dealing with problems on the spot

I figured out just the other day that there are at least two different kinds of “hey I need help!” issues that could come up to a staff member at con.   One is a convention safety issue — someone is causing me grief or there’s a situation that’s unsafe.  The other is  what’s known as a service recovery event,  otherwise known as “feedback”.

Usually the “feedback” is some form of “hey you guys, it’s BROKEN here”.  The pattern for dealing with that is:

* apologize

* don’t try to justify why it’s broken or insist it really isn’t broken

* provide the customer with a remedy, with as much flexibility as you can

Good service recoveries can generate more good will than if everything had gone smoothly in the first place.

But if you’re dealing with a safety issue, it’s different.  First of all the first step is not “apologize”. It may be to enforce a rule or to get help or even give sympathy.   So the very first step is to filter the significance of the upset person in front of you: is this a safety issue or a  customer service problem?  Very different paths to follow depending on what you choose.



What’s the name of that thing?

Today we were discussing solving attendee problems at the con, and someone very helpfully told me what that process is called — Service Recovery. Service Recovery is a bit of magic, if done well it can turn a raving furious customer into your biggest supporter. You need a sincere apology and the flexibility to actually fix problems.

Now there’s another thing that I don’t know what to call it. There’s an email discussion going on, wherein one person is describing the official, documented process and the other person is commenting on the way that process is actually experienced by the people involved. Needless to say, they are somewhat talking past each other, and, I’m sure, each convinced that the other is a buffoon. There must be a word for that second, unofficial process. I just don’t know what it is.

I don’t feel too bad that our organization has both the documented process and the interpretive dance version. After all, we just got a tax cut passed by Congress through a sequence of events that bears very little resemblance to the neat diagram of How a Bill Becomes A Law from 7th grade civics. Put people and politics in a system, and everything goes to pieces….