More open dialogue increases everyone's interest in the experience.
Recently, my wife and I went out to dinner, and when we got there, my wife wanted to use the restroom. She then went to the women's restroom after we were shown a table. While using the restroom, she overheard two women complaining about the horrible service and overall experience they had just had with the restaurant. They had just finished their meal. My wife relayed her bathroom experience when she came back to the table, feeling a little less enthusiastic about our restaurant decision now. The waitress arrived just then and quickly took our drink orders before departing. Terri then went on to finish the story.
Keep in mind that my areas of expertise include leadership and customer service training. I was therefore somewhat eager to witness this subpar customer service in action. When the waitress arrived to see if we were ready to place our order, she apologized softly and sincerely by saying, "Just so you are aware, we have been experiencing some difficulties in the restaurant." She went on to share, "I want to be clear that some of these difficulties may be seen by you. I will do everything in my power to guarantee you have a wonderful dining experience. "
Our waitress helped us set our expectations and quickly dispelled everything we were expecting to happen in about 30 seconds. We were both eager to learn how we might help. We were fairly certain that, despite the other diners' complaints, we would have a different experience.
My takeaway from this experience, which merits a blog post, is that you should train your employees to be open to any potential business issues so that your clients and employees can collaborate to provide excellent customer service together. A truly successful customer experience requires both high-quality employee performance and high-quality customer engagement.
Both parties can get "involved" in the experience by aiding in the expectation-setting process.
Those ladies that shared with Terri felt and saw the difficulties the restaurant was having firsthand and made judgments about the establishment as a result. I bet the waitress at the other table did not acknowledge the difficulties the restaurant was experiencing or discuss them with the customers, because I’d expect the lady’s conversation to be different. They may still not have been completely satisfied, but their tone probably would have painted a different picture for my wife.
We knew full well the difficulties our waitress was dealing with, and we did our best to help her have a positive experience with us as well. We departed, having enjoyed our meal and our interaction with the server. She didn't put any weight on us or blame her troubles on us, in my opinion, but because she had been more open and truthful with us, we were able to support her.
If I elaborate a little, we can apply this to both our professional and personal lives. Others will show us some mercy and assist us in rising above our issues if we are a little more open and revealing of ourselves and let them know about some of our internal or personal challenges rather than attempting to hide them. Instead, we frequently decide to conceal them, thus leaving people to fill in their own gaps in the situation.
Remember that most people aren't necessarily judging us; rather, they are attempting to make sense of a situation without all the facts, leading them to draw incorrect conclusions or make erroneous assumptions. Sharing makes it easier to give people a fuller view, and having a fuller view makes people more sensitive to the current circumstance, more willing to assist you, and improve everyone's experience.