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Learning From Unexpected Challenges

It has been a wonderful holiday, my computer made me take some time off by crashing Friday morning. Fortunately I only lost the root disk, a couple megs of notes, my book marks, and had to reinstall most of my software. But what about customer requests over from the 4th till 7th of July.

Fortunately it was a US holiday weekend and many people were away from their offices, however, imagine what would happen if such an unexpected change happened to your business. Contingency planning is a big part of excellent customer service and building the business relationship.

Customers don't want to hear your computer is down. When your mistakes (or those unexpected things like computer systems failing) cost customers money, you may be liable for the damages. Add expense to injury and costs compound.

Here are a few preventative measures to improve availability of relationship building tools:

  1. Keep things simple. Could you recover your daily operations over the weekend if you lost a significant part of your infrastructure today? Document any practices that deviate from industry standard practices -- and train your people on both.
  2. Identify critical processes. Those core processes that generate revenue and provide the value customers expect should never be interrupted, and when they are -- these processes must come on-line first. What is it that you do that your business can't live without?
  3. Always have a plan B. In the business world, your plan B is a backup plan to engage when your original plans hit unexpected snags. Create this plan as a contingency while you address any other issues in your company. Back up plans get you back to a point prior to the challenge with the minimal amount of energy.
  4. Carry the right insurance. While this is a business basic, certain insurance policies will cover damages (physical or fiscal) when your failures cause discomfort for your customers. Insurance can also be as simple as pre-planning. Do you have a plan in the face of unexpected changes?
  5. Stay calm in action. Don't panic, just get started with those actions you know that will resolve the issue at hand. As in any emergency situation, how you handle the crisis significantly influences the outcome. How do your customers expect you to handle the unexpected?

By taking certain preventative measures you can save yourself time and money, more importantly you can save face in business relationships. Your customers will see you care about your ability to serve them, by being ready for common problems that all businesses face. After all, no one wants to hear "Can't help you right now, the computers are down."

/ applying-strategy | customer-service /

By Justin Hitt at July 7, 2003 4:16 PM  Subscribe in a reader


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