Monday, January 8, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, January 8, 2001

60 Seconds
Service problems will need fixing

By Dr. Drake Beil
President, Solutions Inc.

Have you ever expected something to get done, but were told the deadline couldn’t be met? Or they just failed miserably? If you’re on the receiving end as the business manager, what can you do?

The key, as Apple chief executive Steve Jobs says, is "making new mistakes." You just don’t want to repeat the old ones. A solid recovery program can save customers and make friends.

Here are two quick steps to let your people help you design a service recovery process that works:

1. Idea generation. Pick a topic of service trouble and define it from the customer’s perspective. Don’t worry about being too precise; anything general that gets to the problem is fine, such as "Deliveries are continually late," or "Front-desk people aren’t seen as effective."

While a facilitator keeps the peace, generate as many ideas as you can with your people. Describe what the service looks and feels like when perfect. If you can’t do this, it will be even harder to fix.

2. Idea patterning. Working in pairs or threes, team members should start looking through the many ideas generated. Form patterns or categories based on similarities. New patterns of organization can lead to breakthroughs in wrap-up discussions.

A short-term plan will become evident to the group, and then you just need to follow up.

Dr. Drake Beil can be reached at

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