In the Trenches: Sweating the Small Stuff
Being in the service business, there's a lot that can go wrong. It's in my nature to worry about anything that doesn't go as planned, but as we continue to grow, that's just not feasible. I'd end up worrying all day long, every single day, and not actually getting any work done. There has to be a good way to cull this down so that I only worry about the things that really need my attention.
In our business, notifications can be sent out at the wrong time, or even not at all. Our concierge could miss a customer request or just not respond quickly enough. We could also accidentally fail to give updated information from time to time. Things change very quickly, so that's not completely out of the realm of possibility (thought it's incredibly rare). In a high touch business like this, it's easy for the experience to not be perfect, even if ultimately it's just a very small blemish that the customer might not even really care about.
As I mentioned, it's my nature to completely obsess over anything that goes wrong, but I just can't do that. I need to find a good way to separate what's really an issue versus what's a minor blip. Part of that is having the right people on the job. I know that if something goes wrong, my concierges will let me know. I can't have people working for me who try to cover up mistakes. I need people to tell me when something happens and then we can decide what to do about it, if anything. The concierges know that if it's just a slightly late email or something else tiny, then I don't need to be bothered.
But even then, I hate knowing that a client has had an imperfect experience. I've learned over the years what tends to be a big deal and what's not, but much of it also depends on knowing the client. Some clients are more critical of small issues than others. On the flip side, there are larger issues that will be a problem for any client. For that reason, I have to push myself to rely on client feedback more. Our clients will let us know when something goes wrong that bothers them.
If it's a large issue, then I'm worrying about it and getting involved. That's how it should be. But if it's small, then I need to rely on my concierges to handle it or for our clients to let me know that there's something bothering them. The hardest part there, of course, is knowing where to draw the line.
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.