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Turning Problems into Positives

August 10, 2021

Thanks to each of you who joined the 8 Essential Exchanges video series the last several weeks.

This week we are returning to the traditional blog format but, from time to time, we'll throw in some videos as I think they add value or help illustrate something in a more effective way.

Back to school is one of the busiest times of year for our team at ADDO. While many of our corporate programs happen all throughout the calendar year, we still have programs in more than 1,000 schools. The start of the school year brings a flurry of activity and countless inbound requests, soliciting information, clarification, or help.

The sheer quantity of requests can be overwhelming. Add to it the fact that most of these interactions are mundane and repetitive. It’s easy to see how someone could check out, if not physically, at least mentally.

Unless you change your perspective and start to see each problem as an opportunity.

What do I mean by that?

There was a fascinating study by the Journal of Marketing entitled The Service Encounter. In the study, they categorized 700 customer interactions (or incidents) from the airline, hotel, and restaurant industry. In short, these were a collection of memorable moments from a customer interacting with an employee. Roughly half of the moments were positive and half were negative.

I bet right now you could think of interactions that fall into both of those categories.

The negative ones stick in our minds: the representative was rude, the wait was twice as long as you expected it to be, the order was incorrect, and the list goes on.

The positive ones stay with us, as well: the team member went above and beyond, the person remembered your name, someone helped your child and made their day.

One fascinating component of this study is that nearly 1/4 of the positive experiences came out of a negative one. Said another way, 25 percent of the positive encounters we have with an employee are the result of something going wrong, and then that employee doing something to make it right.

This fact can mean a lot to our team, and to every interaction you have with a customer (or a student, or a church member, or whoever your key constituent is). Every problem presents the potential to turn a negative into a positive.

This week, when someone asks you a question, when they have a challenge, or when you mess something up, choose to see that as an opportunity instead of an obstacle.

The goal isn’t to make mistakes or generate problems just so you can fix them. But, it’s true that if someone is going to remember a positive experience with us or our organization, many times it will be the result of us fixing something that went wrong.

If you’ll choose this perspective on problems, you have the potential to create more positive moments.


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