I saw this article from Shep Hyken and enjoyed his alternative responses. We hope you find it as useful.
Last month I was in Las Vegas for a major convention. I stayed at a very nice hotel, and each night I tried to fall and stay asleep. I emphasize the word tried because, unfortunately, there was non-stop, 24-hour-a-day road construction outside the hotel, as the city of Las Vegas is preparing for the Formula One race later this year. All night, there was jackhammering and bulldozing on the streets where the cars will be racing.
Upon checkout, I was asked, “How was your stay?”
I responded, “I love this hotel. It’s too bad about all that noise from the road construction.”
The front desk employee practically cut me off and curtly stated, “It’s out of our control.”
Of course, I knew it wasn’t the hotel’s fault. I didn’t blame them, but she was quick to point that out anyway. I can only imagine how many similar complaints she has heard from numerous guests over the past few weeks and will hear from many more until the project is over. She obviously has become annoyed by hearing the same complaint again and again, and somehow lost empathy or sympathy for her guests.
So how do you communicate something like this, that’s “out of your control?”
Here are a few ideas using the hotel as an example:
- Respond With Empathy – First, respond to any and every comment about it with sympathy and empathy. Act like you care. You could say something like, “I understand how you feel about the noise. I wish we could do something about it, but the city of Las Vegas is preparing for the big race later this year. I’m sorry this happened.”
- Apologize – It may not have been your fault, but that doesn’t mean you can’t say, “I’m sorry this happened,” which is how I ended the empathy statement above.
- Be Proactive – If enough guests are complaining about something that is completely out of your control and you know the problem is going to continue, proactively inform them when they check in. You can even put a note in the room to warn them about the problem that really is out of your control.
- Come Up With a Solution – This may or may not be possible. In this example, the hotel could offer free earplugs. While it’s not their fault and really is out of their control, they could show a sign of effort to manage the problem, even if it isn’t the perfect solution.
A problem may be out of your control. That’s okay. What’s not okay is to use “It’s out of my control” as an excuse. Instead, see it as an opportunity to show empathy and care for your customers. It’s the words you use and the way you say them that counts.
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs since 1999. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. To learn more about the rights of employees who test positive for marijuana, Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the website at randisiandassociates.com