Problems are Opportunities By Dan Beaulieu

Have you sought out and overreacted to a customer problem today? It’s a huge opportunity?

Tom Peters


What a great quote for one of the best! Peters hits the nail right on then head. There is no greater way of making your bones with a customer than over reacting to a problem your company created or better yet your customer created.  The way you handle a problem shows your customers what you are made off.

Anyone can be a great vendor when things are going well, but when times are tough, when things go wrong man that’s the time to show your customer how much you care about him; that’s the time to let her know that you will walk to the ends of the earth to make the relationship right again.

Every company should have a well thought out plan to put into action when something goes wrong whether it be that your product is late or worse yet that your product fails. You have to be prepared in advance so that when the time comes you can put your emergency plan into play.

Better yet you should strive to be the kind of company that is always ready to overreact, the kind of company that kicks into high gear when there is something to be fixed.  If your customer is hurting and you have delivered the hurt then I would venture to say that there is no such thing as overreacting to make things right. This should be your default, your knee jerk reaction.

Legends are made by companies who fix problems. When a customer is hurt by something going wrong with your product or service; its high blood pressure time for that customer. Besides that problem you have caused him, he also has the anxiety of dealing with you. Telling you about it and waiting to see what you are going to do about it creates a tense situation. He doesn’t know if you will agree with him and do something about it; or if you will disagree with him and create an antagonistic situation. Too many times these days the latter prevails.

Arguing with the customer at this point is only adding kerosene to the fire. He does not want to hear your arguments he wants you to fix the problem. Now to qualify this, you have to make sure you caused the problem. But even in the case where you share the blame with the customer it is always better to overreact. If it is completely the customer’s fault but you manage to find a way to save his proverbial butt you will still be the biggest winner in the long run.

Consider the relief if when you hear what the problem is you go out and repair the damage, you immediately go into high service mode to make sure that you are doing everything you can to make things right…you overreact.

The customer will not only be grateful for what you are doing, but will remember it for life. Delivering customer service in times like these will make your company legendary. You will be creating a customer experience that will be talked about for years to come.

Do you remember the famous Tylenol story? How about the one where Nordstrom’s took back some snow tires from a customer who was unhappy with them…even though Nordstrom’s does not sell snow tires?

Or how about L.L. Bean with their no questions asked return policy even if the Bean boots you are returning are twenty years old. We’ve all hear these stories even though we were not there. Think about that for a minute, why do we know these stories? Why do they represent almost a cliché of super customer service? Of course we know about them because they are legend and the companies legendary.

The way you react to a customer problem or complaint can make your company legendary as well. Look when dealing with customers you have to err on the side of the customer always; if you are the company leader you have to show by example that the customer is always right and that you have to overreact to customer problems. You have to make sure that all of your people follow suit. You have to create an over-reactionary culture if you will where everyone in the company overreacts when there is a problem.

So Mr. Peters was right again; seek out a problem and overreact to it and you too will be known as the Nordstrom’s or the L.L. Beans of your industry and that’s a great thing…its only common sense



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