I remember it like it was yesterday. One of the biggest screw ups of my life. I was one week away from being married. My soon-to-be-wife Lisa and I were living in California at the time, but our wedding was happening in Cleveland where our families live and where I grew up. Because of work schedules, Lisa left for Cleveland a few days before I did. I was organizing a few last minute things the night before I was to go to the airport. I made sure I had my plane tickets and thought I would double check what time my flight was. That’s when my world went black. My plane – the very one that was to carry me to wed my beloved – departed over 12 hours ago!! For some reason I had it in my mind that my flight was the next day. Nope. Panic. As stupid as that was, I was smart enough to call the airline, plead my case and beg for the next flight to Cleveland - before calling Lisa, who was probably expecting me to be landing in Ohio by now. It worked. It only cost me $50 to change the flight to the next morning (I would have sold my first born kid to get on a plane) and now I had a solution before breaking the news to my fiance. No, she still wasn’t thrilled and still called me an idiot, but at least I had a solution. Can you imagine if I hadn’t? She surely would have thought this lame “missed flight” story (true though it was) was a cover for the worst case of cold feet in the world. I learned a very valuable lesson that day…
Solve the problem before you make it someone else’s problem. I always have this in my mind when dealing with my entertainment clients here at the multi-op I work for, Jerry Bruno Productions.
Customer service problems, complaints and mistakes are inevitable. It’s how you deal with them that sets you apart from your competition. Especially dealing with weddings where emotions are on overload and nervousness and excitement are coursing through the veins of any new bride and groom. A very high-strung bride can freak out if the wind blows the wrong way. Can you imagine calling and telling her something major has happened? Without having a good solution?
I always tell the artists I work with “Don’t bring me problems. Bring me solutions.” Hopefully the people I’m choosing to work with are smart enough and creative enough to come up with solutions to just about any challenge that may arise during whatever project we’re working on. It’s the laziness to choose not to do so that’s one of my pet peeves.
That person is just dumping their problem in my lap. IT’S NOT MY PROBLEM! Except that now it is my problem.
This person has solved the problem before even getting on the phone with me. I’m still not thrilled about the situation and I have no idea how the client will react. But at least now when I call the client, I can tell them that everything is under control and present a great solution to the problem.
Don’t bring your clients problems, bring them solutions. Anticipate what their questions and concerns are going to be with the situation and work to nip as many of those concerns in the bud as possible. Keep in mind that if it is a wedding you’re working on, your clients have probably had an image of exactly what they want their reception to be like for a very long time. Any deviation from that image can really send them over the edge. So in addition to coming up with solutions, we also have to be able to effectively demonstrate to our clients that the solutions we come up with still fit their vision for the event. This is one reason why it’s so important to know your clients and know what their vision of the reception is. How else will you know if your solutions are good ones? If your clients have been telling you all along that they love country music and their reception is in a barn for a wedding in the country theme, replacing the DJ they originally picked with an urban flavored scratcher isn’t going to do you any good.
It’s also really important to be skilled at how you present problems to clients. Even your choice of words can make the difference. I always try to use the word “challenge” instead of “problem”and I try to speak in the affirmative as opposed to the negative, conveying how glad I am that such a great alternative option is available to rectify things.