I was recently reminded that even companies with the best reputation sometimes blow it big time. I certainly know that I have. So what happens when what you do isn’t what you did? Do you have a contingency plan?
Let’s face it - we all can have a bad hair day. And I have one of those temperaments that’s kind and generous until you scratch a little deeper to the grouch within. So we all can do things that aren’t consistent with our brand. Or, sometimes the customer’s having a bad hair day and almost nothing will make them happy.
Not everybody thinks clearly in a mode where things are going wrong so it can be a good exercise to get your mastermind team together and come up with as many scenarios as possible where things go wrong and then create a plan for making your customer happy under those circumstances.
I betcha that Amazon has a guide book somewhere that deals with what happens when their delivery carriers destroy that very special item you’ve had on back order for weeks. Did you know that Apple’s geniuses have a discretionary fund they can use to help someone above and beyond what is customary and reasonable?
Just like a good southern Californian will have an earthquake plan it’s good to map out solutions to scenarios where what you would normally do certainly isn’t what you did this time. The more prepared you are for when things go bump in the night the more cool, calm and collected you will seem when they do. And customers appreciate that.
Disney is exceptional at managing people and situations but I was at Disneyland recently where it was clear that they were surprised by the number of guests in the park. It’s usually pretty amazing how they can keep everything under control even when things are full but I can imagine that, in this case, every manager was calling every available employee to get there as soon as possible as the park had a surprising number of people in it.
The apps that predict park attendance were reporting a light day but I knew when I parked my truck in one of the last available spaces that this was going to be ugly. And it was - a surprisingly un-magical day, unfortunately. But that’s the only one I can remember after going to Disneyland many hundreds of times over decades and decades.
All the cast members (Disney’s term for employees - they’re putting on a show!) were still polite and respectful and maintained their charm. Things still functioned mostly normally. I could tell there were extra cast members showing up and taking charge of the situation - somewhere in some guide book they had imagined this scenario.
What scenario can be surprising in your business? How do you handle that? It’s good to have a plan for what you do when things don’t go as you’ve planned and Plan “B” even just went out the window.
Article and photos by Anthony B. Barthel