One of the mistakes I find in problem solving is failure to close the loop. How do you ensure your solution worked? Most say that they know if they solved the problem. ‘Nuff said’, say they!
Let’s look at a story of a client complaint about one of your employees, Sam.
According to your client Mr. Right, Sam does not address the customers politely and professionally. You assure your customer that you will follow up and resolve the issue.
You speak with Sam and figure it out. Sam’s tone of voice is so monotone that he just sounds board. Further he does not let people finish their question before he answers.
After working with Sam, you ask him if he understands the new instructions. He assures you that he is clear, and you are on your way. Mission resolved! You can check this off your list.
Or can you?
Let’s start at the beginning. Did you understand the detail of what Mr. Right wanted? NOPE! Actual problem — Sam is permitted to sit; however, the expectation is that when a customer approaches he is to stand, make eye contact, smile and ask how he may be of assistance. Sam, however, remains sitting. He does not make eye contact. He also does not ask how he may be of assistance.
Mr. Right never heard back from you and the next day found Sam, as usual. No change. He is now very frustrated with you as well as Sam. Possibly looking for another vendor to provide services the RIGHT way!
How could this have gone better?
#1 Be clear in the problem. Dig a little deeper. “Can you give me some examples of what Sam is doing so that I can be sure to cover all areas?”
#2 When reviewing the problem with Sam, be careful with asking “Do you understand?”. Be sure he understands! Most people understand what they THINK we mean.
#3 Once the issue is closed, go back to Mr. Right and let him know the situation should be resolved. Ask Mr. Right to let you know if there are any further problems. Also let him know you will be checking.
Although this manager thought he understood his client’s complaint, he didn’t. Although this manager thought he resolved his client’s complaint, he didn’t. In fact, the client had no way of knowing the issue was ever addressed. Start at the beginning, dig for clarity; and, at every step close the loop.